Dr.Seuss’s The Lorax is a fantastic story and what a wonderful way to experience it than with live performance. Parents of children with special needs will understand that this isn’t always that easy so it is wonderful that more and more theatres are putting on relaxed performances to make it more of a possibility.
The Mousetrap Theatre Projects Relaxed Performance of
Dr.Seuss’s The Lorax on Sunday 5th November 2017
The Old Vic, London, SE1 8NB
About Mousetrap Theatre Project’s Relaxed Performances
Mousetrap Theatre Project’s Relaxed Performances are exceptional which I think is reflected in the fact that Dr.Seuss’s The Lorax has already sold out! The Relaxed Performances ensure that families with children with special needs receive the best support possible to make their experience as inclusive as possible. They are designed with a more relaxed environment in mind especially for those with autism, learning difficulties or other sensory and communication needs. There are less rules (like having to sit and be quiet), adjusted sound and lighting, trained volunteers and supportive staff, plus resources to help prepare for the visit. A maximum of 6 tickets per application.
About Dr.Seuss’s The Lorax
‘I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees!’
The irrepressible, big-hearted, moustachioed critter is back. Following rave reviews and an Olivier nomination for Best Entertainment and Family show. This dazzlingly funny, moving and inspiring show sees the go-getting Once-ler come face to face with the magical Lorax in a battle over the beloved truffula trees and the whole of Paradise Valley. Adapted for the stage by David Greig with music and lyrics by Charlie Fink, Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax is a brilliant riot of eye-popping colour, gorgeous puppetry and infectious music to enchant adults and children alike.
Ticket prices range from £2.50 for a child up to £20 for an adult.
This showing has a limited amount of wheelchair spaces.
Suitable for ages six and over.
Running Time (including interval) 135 minutes.
This is a sell-out show but you can still be added to the waiting list.
The magical dance show The Little Match Girl returns to the Lilian Baylis Studio this December, retelling Hans Christian Andersen’s timeless fable about the kindness of helping others.
This relaxed performance is a less formal theatre experience for those who may be on the autistic spectrum, or have additional sensory and communications needs, or just prefer a less formal theatre setting, offering them a supportive environment to enjoy the show in. To create this environment, performances are adapted in a number of ways including and therefore Relaxed Performance will have:
An altered performance
Lower lighting but house lights remaining on throughout the performance
wheelchair spaces (please note these have all sold out for this performance)
A designated chill out area available to use throughout the performance
Visual Story and Story Board available before the performance by e-mail when booking
For information on what to expect when you visit, click here to watch their film.
A visual story will be emailed to bookers closer to the time.
Show duration: 1 hour 5 minutes (no interval)
Please note, there is limited wheelchair spaces for this performance.
To book, call the ticket office on 020 7863 8000 or click here to book online.
Join the Access Scheme to keep up to date with what’s on at Sadler’s Wells in a format that suits you. If you are in receipt of disability-related state benefits, you may also be entitled to a reduction on the cost of your ticket. Reduced price tickets are limited to one per booking per production.
If you require further information and/or disability related assistance please contact:
Sadler’s Wells, the Lilian Baylis Studio and the Peacock Theatre are all inside the congestion charge zone. If you want to drive in the congestion charge zone between 7am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday, excluding Public Holidays, you will have to pay the £11.50 charge. There are some exemptions and discounts. For more information and to find out how to pay, visit Transport for London. Sadler’s Wells is just inside the zone, depending where you are coming from it is possible to park outside the zone with a short walk to the theatre – this is not so easy at the Peacock Theatre. The nearest car park to Sadler’s Wells outside the congestion charge zone is in Parkfield Street, off Liverpool Road.
On-street free parking in Hardwick Street and other streets off Rosebery Avenue after 6.30pm Mon-Fri and from 1.30pm on Saturdays (heavy fines apply to parking in residents? bays). There is a large 24 hour car park in nearby Bowling Green Lane.
There are 15 spaces in the Sadler’s Wells car park at the rear of the theatre off Arlington Way (postcode: EC1R 1XA) for anyone in your party who is over 65, a member of our Access scheme or a Blue Badge holder. These cost £5.00 for the over 65s and are free of charge to Access members and Blue Badge holders. To reserve a place, please contact the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000.
With Panto Season just around the corner it is good to see that so many theatres are putting on Relaxed Performances to make it more inclusive for all. I am compiling a list of Pantos with Relaxed Performances showing for the 2016-2017 Season and will add more that I hear of.
What are Relaxed Performances of a Panto?
Of course all theatres may vary slightly with what they offer but in general a Relaxed Performance is an adaptation of the regular Panto but is more suitable for those with autistic, sensory and communication conditions, learning disorders and anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. Everyone is welcome but the performances are more relaxed – meaning that people will understand if someone needs to clap their hands, make noises or move around the auditorium. Some have fewer seats for sale, providing increased wheelchair capacity and giving audience members more space to make them feel more comfortable.
Lighting effects, noises and elements of surprise are kept to a minimum and with house lights being partially up (also making it safer to move around). Doors may be left open and chill-out areas provided for if the auditorium becomes overwhelming – with beanbags, sensory toys and bubble lights, that can be accessed throughout the show. There is often a chance to become familiar with the theatre and actors before the performance and/or a visual story. Front of House teams are often given specific training if any difficulties arise. Some theatres even have Autism Support Groups on hand to give any advice and information leaflets.
Please contact each theatre to find out exactly what it is they provide before booking. Information is accurate to my understanding at time of publish, gleamed from the individual venues but I take no responsibility for errors and advise checking before placing an order/making plans.
To find about more about this performance or to book your tickets, please call the Box Office on 01483 440000. All tickets for this performance are £9 which includes the Restoration Levy and Booking Fee. When booking your tickets you can let them know if you would like a familiarisation tour prior to your visit.
Friday 16th December 2016
Peter Pan – 10:30am Hawth Theatre, Hawth Ave, Crawley RH10 6YZ
Stars Shaun Williamson, aka Barry from EastEnders, Emma Barton (Honey in Eastenders) alongside Cook and Line, the pirate duo from CBeebies show Swashbuckle.
British Sign Language Interpreted Performance (Signer: Tony Oliver) – Saturday 17 December, 2pm
Sunday 18th December 2016
Robin Hood The Pantomime – 2pm Assembly rooms Ludlow, 1 Mill St, Ludlow SY8 1AZ
The Box Office is open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday: 01584 878141. £5 child, £8 adult, £22 family. Support companions go free, but still must book in advance. You can also book online, by post or in person.
Monday 19th December 2016
Snow White and Other Tales from the Brothers Grimm – 12 Noon
Oxford Creation Theatre: North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford OX2 7JN
Cinderella – 12 Noon
Oxford Creation Theatre: The Mill Arts Centre Banbury X16 5QE
Tickets are now on sale but if you have any questions, please call the Box Office on 01865 766266. For those who would benefit from the adapted performance, a special Relaxed Ticket at £10.
Dick Whittington and His Amazing Cat – 1:30pm Chequer Mead Theatre, De La Warr Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 3BS
Starring Really Wild Show presenter Howie Watkins, BBC Sussex and Surrey’s Allison Ferns and Brookside actor Allen Mechen.
Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE
TV favourite Jorgie Porter* (Hollyoaks, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!) will be making her pantomime debut as she heads up this year’s cast in the title role of Snow White! Jorgie will be joined by Radio City 96.7 Breakfast Show’s Leanne Campbell (a much-loved member of the Empire panto family, now in her fourth year) as the Wicked Queen, and back by popular demand is Liam Mellor as the lovable comic, Muddles
The theatre does not have its own parking facilities but Liverpool boasts many city centre car parks with reasonable rates and many are within 5 minutes’ walk of the theatre. The closest car parks are located at Mount Pleasant, Lord Nelson Street, Queen Square and at St John’s Shopping Centre on Lime Street. St. John’s Car Park offers discounted parking of £2.00 for patrons visiting the Liverpool Empire after 6.00pm and leaving before midnight (car park ticket must be validated in the theatre foyer).
0844 871 7677 (Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge)
Wednesday 28th December 2016
Sleeping Beauty – 17:00
Sunderland Empire. High Street West, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR1 3EX
Vicky Entwistle (Coronation Street, Les Misérables, The Vagina Monologues) is set to reveal a wicked side when she takes on the evil role of Carabosse, alongside actress and ‘Steps’ star Faye Tozer, who is set to sparkle as the Good Fairy and children’s TV favourite Andrew Agnew (CBeebies, Balamory), who returns to Sunderland following his triumphant panto performance in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 2014, in the role of Silly Billy and also as director of this year’s pantomime!
Joining them is Amy-Leigh Hickman as Princess Briar Rose, who is best known for playing Carmen in the popular CBBC series Tracy Beaker, plus spin off series The Dumping Ground and more recently as Linzi Bragg in Eastenders. The line-up is completed by special guest star and legend of radio, screen and stage, Bobby Crush (Opportunity Knocks, Benidorm, The Rocky Horror Show, Chicago) as Nurse Kelly.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 (Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge) Mon-Sat, 9am-10pm. Sun 10am-8pm
Thursday 29th December 2016
Cinderella – 13:30
Bristol Hippodrome Theatre, St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol, BS1 4UZ
Torvill & Dean take to the stage as the Fairy Godparents. The classic rags to riches tale Cinderella will be transformed into a breath-taking family extravaganza with glittering sets, gorgeous costumes, big song and dance numbers, real Shetland ponies and jaw-dropping skating sequences.
If you require information about parking for patrons with a disability please call 0117 3023222 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm) or email email@example.com
Access Bookings: 0117 3023222
Friday 30th December 2016
Aladdin – 13:00
Opera House Manchester, 3 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3HP
Loose Women and Benidorm favourite, and star of the all-new Are You Being Served?, Sherrie Hewson, will be appearing as The Genie of the Ring, opposite one of Manchester’s best-loved actors, John Thomson (Cold Feet) as the evil Abanazar. Pop sensation Ben Adams (A1) will tread the boards as the title role, Aladdin, and to complete the line-up, writer, director and one of the best dames in the business, Eric Potts will star as Widow Twankey!
Jack and the Beanstalk – 1.30pm and 7.15pm Theatre Royal Nottingham, Theatre Square, Nottingham NG1 5ND
This year’s GIANT family-friendly panto adventure stars the legendary comedy-duo The Chuckle Brothers as Paul and Barry Trot, Benidorm’sTony Maudsley as Dame Trot, and The X Factor finalist Chico as Jack, the hero of our tale. This unmissable production carries the Theatre Royal pantomime hallmark of outstanding entertainment for all ages and features laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning costumes and scenery, and amazing special effects as the audience and cast enter the Giant’s castle in spectacular 3D!
Sign Language Interpreted15/12/2016 1:30 pm
Audio Described17/12/2016 2:30 pm
Sign Language Interpreted18/12/2016 1:30 pm
Captioned07/01/2017 2:30 pm
Audio Described08/01/2017 1:30 pm
Sign Language Interpreted13/01/2017 7:15 pm
Call Caroline Pope on 0115 989 5627 for further details and to book. £2 for online bookings or £3 for phone & counter sales applies per transaction.
Thursday 5th January 2017
Jack and the Beanstalk – 10am The Everyman Theatre, Regent Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1HQ
There will be an audio described performance and touch tour for the performance on Wednesday 4th January @ 2.00pm and a sign language interpreted performance on Saturday 7th January @ 2pm
For the Relaxed Performance: 01242 695574
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – 19:00
New Victoria Theatre. The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre. Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ
The job of head dwarf Prof is a tall order but nothing that TV and film star Warwick Davis can’t measure up to. Known to millions from his roles in Star Wars, the Harry Potter series and Willow, as well as TV comedy series Life’s Too Short and Idiot Abroad 3, he will ensure that the pantomime won’t be short of laughs this Christmas. Joining him is comedy favourite Andy Ford as the Henchman.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Sleeping Beauty – 13:30
Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond. Surrey, TW9 1QJ
Maureen Lipman makes a welcome return to Richmond’s spectacular Panto as the Wicked Fairy. With a catalogue of acting credits for television, stage and film, Maureen is well-known for her roles in films Educating Rita and the award-winning The Pianist. Joining her after two highly successful pantomimes at Richmond will be none other than CBeebies favourite Chris Jarvis in the role of Chester the Jester, returning for a third year in a row, due to overwhelming popular demand.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Returning for the second year running as one half of them awfy Ugly Sisters is Gregor Fisher (Rab C Nesbitt, Naked Video). Gregor’s old chum Tony Roper (Rab C Nesbitt, The Steamie) is back in his squad as a fellow ugly alongside King’s panto favourite Des Clarke (Capital FM) as Buttons. River City’s Gary Lamont stars as Dandini with Elaine MacKenzie Ellis (Rab C Nesbitt, Me Too) as the Fairy Godmother also taking to the ballroom floor. Completing the cast is our Prince Josh Tevendale (Avenue Q) and of course, Cinderella herself, Gillian Ford. It’s gonnae have to be some size of pumpkin carriage for this lot!
Glasgow City Council operates a supervised 24hr, pay-on-foot (credit cards accepted) multi-storey car park behind the theatre in Elmbank Crescent with access via Elmbank St. Parking after 6pm costs £2.50 and this charge entitles you to park until 8am the following day. This car park has spaces reserved for people with disabilities.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Wednesday 11th January 2017
DIck Whittington 11:00
New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1QG
The Home of London Pantomime is thrilled to announce the strictly sensational Arlene Phillips CBE will make her pantomime debut in this year’s Dick Whittington alongside the return of the side-splittingly hilarious Tim Vine and the best dame in the business, Matthew Kelly.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Box Office on 0115 941 9419 for more details on Relaxed Performances. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding familiarisation visits, wheelchair access and disabled parking, all you need to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org.
JOHN BARROWMAN, STEVE MCFADDEN, THE KRANKIESand MATT SLACK
Captioned: Sunday 8th January 2017 1pm and Wednesday 11th January 7:15pm
Signed: Sunday 15th January 2017 1pm & 5:15pm
Audio Described: Wednesday 18th January 2017 2pm & Saturday 21st January 2017 2:30pm.
No Under 3s
For further information, please contact Liz Leck, Creative Learning Manager, on 0121 689 3064 or email@example.com. Please note, this contact is for information only. Bookings MUST be made through the Ticket Sales number on 0844 338 5000 (Call cost 4.5p per min plus access charge).
I was also told of the following:
Oldham – Coliseum – Sleeping Beauty
Audio Described: Tuesday 13 December, 7.30pm
BSL: Thursday 15 December, 7.30pm
Bolton – Octagon Theatre – Cinderella
Audio Described: Friday 2 December 7:00pm
BSL: Friday 9 December 7:00pm
Captioned: Friday 16 December 7:00pm
Manchester – The Lowry – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
BSL: Thursday 15 December, 7.30pm.
Audio Description: Sunday 18 December, 2pm. Free Touch Tour 12.30pm.
Relaxed: Thursday 22 December, 2pm – please book in person or over the phone on 0843 208 6010.
Captioned: Tuesday 10 January, 7.30pm
If you know of any other Relaxed Performance Pantos then please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I can add them in.
A Relaxed Performance of BOY, a new play by Leo Butler, directed by Sacha Wares, will take place at the Almeida Theatre on Wednesday 11 May at 1.30pm. All tickets will be £10; tickets for companions and support workers are free.
At a bus stop.
Boy is an ambitious, timely exploration of austerity London. Master of observation, Leo Butler casts a sharp eye over contemporary London and picks out someone for us to follow. Boy is an important new play about coming of age in twenty first century London.
About the Relaxed Performance of Boy at Almeida Theatre
The Relaxed Performance has been specifically designed to welcome people who will benefit from a more relaxed performance environment, including people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory and communication disorders, or a learning disability. People have the freedom to come and go as necessary, and a chill-out area is provided for those who need a quiet space. There is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement and some small changes are made to light and sound effects.
To help the audience prepare for their visit a Visual Story will be distributed with photographs of the Almeida building and auditorium, the set, and the characters in Boy. The audience will have the opportunity to attend a familiarization visit at the theatre before the performance, and to meet the cast on the day. The Almeida Participation team are offering specialist workshops to give groups the chance to explore themes from Boy in a creative, open environment. Alongside the Relaxed Performance workshops are on offer for groups to explore the themes of Boy, as well as a familiarization visit and Visual Story.
Boy has a running time of approximately 80 minutes with an age guidance of 14+.
Following Boy, a Relaxed Performance of THEY DRINK IT IN THE CONGO, a new play by Adam Brace, directed by Michael Longhurst, will take place on Wednesday 21 September at 1.30pm.
Wednesday 11 May at 1.30pm
Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, London, N1 1TA
All tickets for the Relaxed Performance of Boy are £10; all tickets for companions and support workers are free but must be booked via the Box Office.
RELAXED PERFORMANCE OF WONDER.LAND Thursday 21 April 2016 at 7pm in the Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
A Relaxed Performance of WONDER.LAND will take place on Thursday 21 April at 7pm in the Olivier Theatre at the National Theatre South Bank, London, SE1 9PX
Wonder.land is a new musical inspired by Lewis Carroll’s iconic story, wonder.land is a coming-of-age adventure that explores the blurred boundaries between our online and offline lives. Combining live theatre and digital technology in dazzling new ways, wonder.land is a musical like no other: Aly is struggling with all the pressures of being a teenager: family, school, friends and her own insecurities. Then she discovers wonder.land – a mysterious online world where, perhaps, she can create a whole new life. The web becomes her looking-glass – but will Aly see who she really is?
Specifically designed to welcome people with a learning disability, Down’s Syndrome, autism or sensory and communication disorders into the theatre, Relaxed Performances give those who otherwise might feel excluded the chance to experience live performance. Relaxed Performances have a less formal, more supportive atmosphere in order to reduce anxiety levels. There is a relaxed attitude to audience noise and movement and some small changes made to the light and sound effects. Parts of the theatre foyer will be available as a quiet space for those who need to leave and re-enter the auditorium during the show. After the performance, the audience will have the opportunity to stay to meet the actors who will be in costume but out of character. ‘Visual stories’, which give information about the theatre and the show, will be provided to all bookers to help support their visit.
WONDER.LAND has a running time of approximately 2hrs 30 including an interval.
All tickets are priced at £5.
Suitable for children 10+. The storyline features challenging and current issues of teenage life in the 21st century.
Includes slang, explicit language and scenes of bullying and teasing.
Mousetrap Theatre Projects will be showing a Relaxed Performance of The Gruffalo on Tuesday 4th August 2015 at 2pm, in assocation with Tall Stories and Kenny Wax Family Entertainment. Based on the award winning book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler,The Gruffalo Live follows the story of Mouse on an adventurous journey through the deep, dark wood…
Relaxed Performances are perfect for those with Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism and other learning, communication and sensory disorders. Not only do relaxed performances have adjustments made to sound and lighting, free resources to help you prepare for your visit and trained volunteers and staff at the event, but they are also keen to adapt the performance, as much as they can, to meet any additional needs. If you have any questions, suggestions or requirements that are not already catered for then let me know please. I can not only feed them on to the project manager, but other places who are trying to ensure a fully inclusive experience for all.
Unfortunately wheelchair space is very limited and restricted to one carer sitting with the user. There is no level access to the auditorium, nor is there a stair climber. There is the option to book a transfer seat if the individual is able to walk or be carried to the auditorium – again this needs to be arranged prior to the performance.
Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue
For ages 3+
Tickets from £12.50 – £2.50
Tickets are in 3 pricing bands
Band 1:£12.50 (Adult) & £7.50 (Child) – These will be in the Stalls or Dress Circle
Band 2: £7.50 (Adult) & £5 (Child) – These will be in the back or front 2 rows of the Stalls or Back of Dress Circle
Band 3:£5 (Adult) & £2.50 (Child) – These will be in the Upper Circle
At least onemember of the group must be a young person with special needs (5 – 23)
HALF or MORE of the group must be young people aged 5 – 17, or 23 for young people with special needs. (Two parents are welcome to bring one child)
Applications from families have to be referred by one of the Partner Organisations (The Sensory Seeker is one of those organisations so if you wish to go please get in touch with myself).
Strictly one application per family, maximum 6 people per application
If you wish to come as a group of families, please fill in one application per family and leave a note in the final section of the application form
MTP relaxed performances are designed to accommodate families to attend the theatre together as a unit – if you are a school or organisation that would like to arrange a group visit then let me know and I will get in touch with the Project Manager).
Tickets are allocated on a first come, first served basis and are subject to availability
This is a charity performance, funded and subsidised to provide access to the West End for young people with special needs and their families.
The Bristol Hippodrome put on their first relaxed performance of a Panto yesterday. The Hippodrome is without a doubt one of the most magical places to experience a Panto and it was so nice that Bristol had gone to the trouble of making those with special needs be included. The production was Dick Whittington starring Ashleigh and Pudsey (from Britain’s Got Talent fame), Ben Faulks (aka Mr Bloom), Andy Ford (with a string of credits to his name and his 22nd Panto performance at The Bristol Hippodrome), Brenda Edwards (the last woman standing in the X-Factor finals 2005), Eric Potts (best known for being Diggory Compton in Coronation Street amongst many other amazing accomplishments), Lara Denning, Ben Goodridge and Hayley Jane Goold. The Sensory Seeker was invited along in order to review how the Relaxed Performance was handled.
The Relaxed Performance of Dick Whittington at The Bristol Hippodrome
First of all I cannot express enough how much of a great step in acceptance and inclusion it feels that the Bristol Hippodrome put on a relaxed performance. The Bristol Hippodrome has without a doubt some of the most amazing lights, sounds, costumes, scenery and performers: With the theatre itself is a beauty all on its own. Without any additional support, it was great just knowing that The Sensory Seeker could watch the performance in his own way (getting up, spinning, making noises, clapping his hands) without the judgement (well without the guilt of it disturbing others at least). The Bristol Hippodrome opened at 12:30 – leaving 90 minutes for familiarisation of the building. In this time we could go in the Chill-out room (especially put on for the relaxed performance), visit the toilets and purchase anything we needed from the shop.
The chill-out room had several different toys to help The Sensory Seeker. Things he could stretch, squeeze, different colours, shapes, textures – it even encouraged him to interact with other children in the room. The lighting in the room was low and soft and coloured lights were used. There were comfy sofas and bean bags with cushions for the children to sit on. Also in the room was a screen so that if they felt that they had to come out of the performance then they would not miss the show. I was also pleased to see that those in wheelchairs also had access to the performance,as they are quite a few stairs.
I believe that the levels of light were different for this performance, with mainly the stage being lit up and no lights going across where we were seated. That the overall content of the show was not changed but that sound levels were, that there was also the option to listen to an audio description commentary, and a visual story was available prior to the performance (containing detailed information/photos of the theatre and a Dick Whittington sensory synopsis – detailing all that will happen in terms of sound and light throughout the show). I cannot comment on any of this as we did not receive it. The Sensory Seeker has been to a few different productions now however and so was fine without this support.
The Pantomime of Dick Whittington at The Bristol Hippodrome
Dick Whittington was everything I remember a Panto being as a child, and truly magical. It began the moment we stepped foot in the impressive theatre. It looked so grand and the children instantly wished we had balcony seats (I promised them maybe next time). In front of them was the glitteriest screen with Dick Whittington written on it – with so much detail and bling. There was humour on so many levels and it was great to see my 11 year old laughing at some of the more adult bits (such as guessing what Idle Jack would have said that rhymed with silly!) It was great family fun and none of the lines went too far. The costumes were amazing and in true Panto style The Dame (Sarah the Cook) had a fabulous wardrobe, including a fantastic underwear set!! The story itself flowed really well and it was a lovely twist on the classic.
I loved the way they had integrated Pudsey into the story and he indeed was a big hit with The Sensory Seeker; who I am sure is like many others with his difficulties that has a fondness for dogs. The talent was out of this World – Brenda Edwards has the voice of an angel and it was amazing to hear, Ashleigh was also a brilliant singer but the biggest shock was listening to how well Mr Bloom (Ben Faulks) could sing – sorry I mean Dick Whittington of course! The children recognising people they had seen on the television was a treat in itself.
The choreography was amazing and the dancing flawless. One thing that always amazing me is the young people, and in this case they are referred to as the Juveniles. I am not sure if we had the Red Team or the Blue Team but they did a superb job. The only reason I could tell that they were so young is from their heights, because their performances were just as good as the rest of the cast. Their parents must be so incredibly proud that their children held their own with such talent in The Bristol Hippodrome.
Of course as well as the amazing use of scenery, textures and lights the added magic to this performance was the inclusion of a very clever 3D underwater scene. This was a great addition to the show and something I have never seen in Panto before. A very modern twist and a great way to demonstrate the technology at The Bristol Hippodrome. All 3D glasses were provided and the children were thrilled that they could take them home.
Conclusion of The Relaxed Performance of Dick Whittington at The Bristol Hippodrome
In terms of inclusion I will repeat again how it is very much appreciated that The Bristol Hippodrome have gone to lengths to include individuals such as The Sensory Seeker (that is those with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Sensory, learning and communication disorders and other difficulties). Apart from the things stated above it was good to see individuals with these needs invited on stage to take part with the Pantomime (I could be wrong about this as this is an assumption based on my observations). There was a good selection of glowing items to purchase, the theatre was easy to find our way around and the queue to the toilet moved very quickly.
However, it was really busy. There was no real room to move. and getting up to move out of our seats meant lots of other people having to move too. This was awkward enough in the interval never mind if an individual couldn’t cope during the performance. There was no introduction of the Cast before the performance – but I guess they did not have their faces covered like in The Gruffalo. It was really busy on trying to exit The Bristol Hippodrome, I think this was further heightened by the fact that Andy Ford was in the foyer selling his DVD and photo opportunities were available. I do think this was a really nice touch and the children were excited to be able to get a picture together, but also not very well thought out for those with differing abilities that may have struggled with this scenario.
In conclusion Dick Whittington was an amazing production and I would like to thank everyone involved, especially those who helped turn it into a relaxed performance to make it more inclusive for all.
I received 4 free tickets to the Relaxed Performance and a programme in return for an honest review. All words and opinions are my own.
We went to see The Relaxed Performance of The Gruffalo Live at Birmingham Town Hall. Relaxed performances are open to everyone but are specifically for people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition, learning difficulty, sensory processing and communication disorder. I would like to say that a lot of effort has gone into the production and ensuring that everyone was able to enjoy it. This was both before and during the performance.
Prior to Attending The Gruffalo Relaxed Performance
Prior to attending there were videos of the town hall, a full guide to the story, visuals and information about the building (getting there and inside), photos of the cast (in and out of their costumes); detailed descriptions of the set, lighting, sounds and list of songs.
There was a visual story guide so that the child would know exactly what would be happening. There was also a visual guide with more detail for children with a higher understanding level. There was absolutely no reason that there would have been anything unexpected about the show. There was also an informal drop-in session on the Monday prior to the show so that the families could see the hall as it would be during the performance; find where they would be sitting, meet the people who would be on duty; meet the cast and ask any questions.
Arriving at The Gruffalo Relaxed Performance
We were told that our tickets would be available a couple of hours prior to the performance. It meant that there was actually no queue when we picked ours up, and gave our Sensory Seeker an opportunity to get to know the venue, purchase a Gruffalo flag (his brother had a book) and go to the toilet.
Autism West Midlands atThe Gruffalo Relaxed Performance
Near to where we collected the tickets there was also lots of extra information in regards to Autistic Spectrum disorder (who the primary audience was for). I believe this was provided by Autism West Midlands. They had details of how they help and how they are contactable – including family outreach, support/social groups, residential care, supported living, employment support and training. They also had a social network for families living with Autism called Connect (which also has an app for it). Connect allows the user to develop a social network, featuring the people and providers who give them support; gives the opportunity to find local people going through similar experiences; find and promote local activities and events; discover, rate and review local providers and services; access free autism eLearning, download information and resources. This is information has been taken from their flyer.
In fact if my child was newly diagnosed with Autism this would have been a great place to go. They provided plenty of information about the condition, how to help with it, and where to access help. I particularly liked the Guide to Visual Communication Resources leaflet – which also had a list of useful websites. There were also flyers for applying for an Autism attention card – designed for when adults and young people go out on their own and encounter the Emergency services. It will then help the police and other emergency services to make reasonable adjustments to how they respond to the card carrier, and details of anyone who needs to be contacted. There was a whole range of printouts on a variety of topics including sensory issues, siblings, getting active/play etc. The lady also said there was more available from their website.
The Gruffalo Relaxed Performance The Hall
The central area had had the seats taken out, providing a central aisle. This big open space meant that there was plenty of room if anyone need to go in or out of the performance. It also it meant that children had space to move about and dance. It was really lovely as it also meant that the children were able to go right to the front of the stage and see the characters up close. Feeling very brave when the Gruffalo came out – and then down to the floor where the children could touch him!!!! There was extra wheelchair spaces, and some children were up high on another level. The doors were left open and a chill out area was provided (with bean bags and toys). It was less formal and we were told that noise and movement was welcomed. Do what we need to do was the message. There was low noise from the production and low light levels. The staff all had specialist training and were very good.
The Gruffalo Relaxed Performance
Prior to the performance all the cast were introduced and we were told which parts they would be playing (these had as previously been mentioned provided in the parent pack). Charlie Guest was The Narrator and Gruffalo; Will Towler was the Narrator, Fox, Snake and Owl; and Ellie Bell was the mouse.
Also we were told about the room that we could do pretty much whatever we needed, that we could get up, make noise, come and go. They did ask if any feedback could be fed to them to help improve future performances and a questionnaire was available at the end (to either fill in there or to post back to them). We were even allowed to take as many photographs as we liked, as long as the flash was off. I think this help many children with special needs as I saw a lot of them happily snapping away.
The Gruffalo Live Relaxed Performance itself was amazing. Just the right duration, with a fantastic mixture of songs, attractive costumes, humour, action and audience participation. We were pleased to see that it was not just a reading of the (much loved) Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler book. Theatre Company Tall Stories had adapted it for the stage with its own added bits and extra twists. I think the scenery/lighting was a good balance of not being under or over stimulating and the small cast meant that it was not overwhelming.
Relaxed Performance Improvements
The one thing I did notice is that no consideration had been taken into the differences between children’s needs. For example my son is a sensory seeker – and his needs are quite different to a sensory avoider. There was a lady who was worried about her son who needed to run up and down because the doors were open (and may wonder off or play with them). Her other concern was that he may try to get on stage. I know that all needs cannot be met, as children are so different. Maybe finding out why parents want to come to the performances and exactly how things could be made better will help though. In this case I think an enclosed space for the boy to run would have helped. Our son came in a Gruffalo outfit, which met most of his sensory needs. I liked that there were things for sale before the performance – such as Gruffalo soft toys – which could also have helped with the sensory experience. However, his costume could have upset certain children, and other children wanted to touch him (which is fine with us) but might not have been with other children.
The Gruffalo’s Child is being performed in London 10th December 2014 – 4th January 2015 (this is not relaxed performance).
I received four free tickets to see The Gruffalo Live Relaxed Performance. No other financial compensation has been given. All words and opinions are my own (except those stated from the leaflet). Thank you very much we all had an amazing time, and I was really impressed with the effort involved to make comfortable those who may have not been able to cope with the show otherwise.
Julia Donaldson’s Gruffalo is by far one of the best children’s stories ever written. It was one of the first bedtime stories to really grab our Sensory Seeker’s interest. This wasa lso the start of lengthening his attention span. The Gruffalo is so well written that it appeals to both adults and children. Our Sensory Seeker absolutely loved the Squash and a Squeeze Exhibition, so I just knew he would love to see The Gruffalo Live. The magic of seeing one of his favourite stories coming to life.
Trouble is with these sorts of performances is that you never know how he will cope. Will he be over stimulated with all the sensory input, will he make too much noise, or annoy people by keep needing to go to the toilet, will the disruption in routine be too much. I know I shouldn’t but I do worry what other people think, and me and my husband would hate to think that our son’s behaviour was disrupting the performance for someone else. I have taken our Sensory Seeker to a “Sensory Screening” at The Roses Theatre before. This meant that they cut the adverts and the lights wee low. Most importantly for me it meant that he could get out of his seat, make noises, clap his hands – do whatever he felt he needed to do and I did not feel uncomfortable. So when I discovered that there was a Relaxed Performance of The Gruffalo Live at Birmingham Town Hall this summer I knew we had to go.
Following on from their previous Relaxed Performance of What the Ladybird Heard in January, their Relaxed Performances have been very well thought out and are specially adapted with those on the Autistic Spectrum, with learning disabilities, sensory processing or communication disorders, and those in wheelchairs in mind.
Before you go to the Relaxed Performance of The Gruffalo Live
Preparation can play a key role in how a child copes with a visit – especially if they find change difficult to handle. I know that my son is a very visual learner so I appreciate the time and thought that has gone into the little touches to help him understand where he is going, and what will happen.
There is a short film available, which gives a preview of the historic concert hall. This shows what it looks like, and how you can get there, including disabled parking. It answers many questions that may be asked in order to plan the visit, showing things like the seating plan, facilities for those in wheelchairs, toilets, food and the chill out zone.
Closer to the time of the show (dates to be confirmed) there were be a free familiarisation tour of Town Hall to help get to know the venue, facilities and staff ahead of the performance. I am also really impressed with the visual storyboard of the performance to help the children prepare for the performance before and during the visit. This will soon be made available online to download and by mail or email upon request.
During the Relaxed Performance of The Gruffalo Live
There will be small changes made to the light and sound levels, while the attitude to noise and movement in the audience is more relaxed. There are also added wheelchair spaces, in addition to the standard seating plan, a chill-out zone away from the auditorium and they will keep some of the doors open in case people need to come and go during the performance. In planning for the relaxed performance, they have consulted with individuals knowledgeable in the areas of autism and learning disabilities, and will provide specialist training for their front of house staff, and a briefing to cast members.
Town Hall, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B3 3DQ, West Midlands, United Kingdom
£12 plus transaction fee* £2.50 transaction fee, plus £1 (optional) postage, will be charged on all bookings except purchases made in person at the Town Hall or Symphony Hall Box office.
This relaxed performance is very kindly supported by the Edward and Dorothy Cadbury Trust, The Eveson Charitable Trust, The Loppylugs and Barbara Morrison Charitable Trust, and The Saintbury Trust.