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Sensory-Friendly Performances

Sensory-Friendly Performances


Everyone should get the chance to enjoy live theatre.

In 2019, we will be offering special sensory-friendly performances of Because of Winn Dixie and A Connecticut Christmas Carol. These Family-friendly performances are designed and intended for those who are on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory issues. At these performances, the theatre environment will be altered, providing a safe, friendly, comfortable and judgment-free zone that is welcoming for all. These performances are recommended for those families and caregivers who are familiar with and accepting of behaviors exhibited by some individuals with autism—and would like to bring a loved one to the theatre.

For questions regarding these special performances, contact Kate Micari-Miller: 860.615.0316 or kmicari@goodspeed.org

Here’s what you can expect at a sensory-friendly performance:

  • Pre-show resources such as a character guide, plot synopsis, photos and video from the Goodspeed production, FAQs, and a “coming to the theatre” video
  • Modifications to sound and lighting levels
  • Accepting and inclusive environment
  • Chill-out area for people who need a break


  • All tickets for the sensory-friendly performances are $12.
  • To purchase tickets, please contact Shana at 860.615.0316 or kmicari@goodspeed.org.



Sunday, Dec 29, 2pm

The Terris Theatre, Chester, CT

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Some of the most beloved storytellers in Connecticut history come alive for a yuletide gathering you won’t forget. Famed actor and local legend William Gillette leaves his castle on the Connecticut River to adapt Dickens’ holiday classic. Local heroes Mark Twain, P.T. Barnum and Benedict Arnold make spirited appearances opposite Gillette’s Scrooge in a highly theatrical twist on a family favorite. Custom-made for Goodspeed with all-original music, here’s a tuneful, heartfelt confection spiced with enough Nutmeg State flavor to sweeten your season.




MALCOLM'S GOODSPEED DOCUMENTARY Malcolm is a student at Franklin Academy in East Haddam. He has spent a lot of time at Goodspeed both with his family and as a student at Franklin Academy as part of a partnership between Goodspeed and Franklin. Last semester, Malcolm made a documentary about Goodspeed for his video class project. Thanks Malcolm. Enjoy!


Q. What is a Sensory-Friendly performance?
A. A Sensory-Friendly Performance is a live theatre production for people with a variety of sensory input disorders. Our sensory-friendly performance will be accessible to people on the autism spectrum, who have anxiety, or other cognitive disabilities. Goodspeed staff and performers have carefully modified the performance with this audience in mind.

Q. How has the performance been modified?
A. During Sensory-Friendly Performances, audience members can freely leave their seats as needed during the performance, house lights will remain somewhat illuminated, sound levels will be lowered, the use of flashing lights will be reduced, and special educational materials will be made available to patrons prior to the performance. Goodspeed will make numerous other subtle modifications to the regular theatre experience to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible during the performance. There will be several safe spaces for audience members to leave the show and relax as needed. Additionally, trained Goodspeed staff and volunteers will be present to accommodate the needs of this specific population. There is no expectation that the audience will be quiet during the performance. It will be a completely judgment-free zone!    

Q. How can I purchase tickets?
A. All tickets for this special performance are $12 each. To purchase tickets, please call Kate Micari-Miller at 860.615.0316 or email kmicari@goodspeed.org.

Q. Who should attend this performance?
A. This performance caters to people of all ages with sensory input disorders, their families, and caretakers. If it is difficult or impossible for an individual to attend live performance because of their sensory challenges, this is an excellent opportunity to experience the magic of live musical theatre in a friendly, judgment-free environment. Goodspeed strives to provide a carefree and fun experience for everyone involved. We are prepared for loud reactions to the show from this audience. We also understand that some audience members will need to leave or move around the space during the show. This is perfectly fine! All children must be accompanied by an adult while in the theatre. Again, we encourage caretakers and family members of people with special needs to attend.

Q.  Can people without autism or cognitive disabilities attend this performance?
A. Tickets for this performance are not available to the general public. We encourage caretakers and family members of people with sensory input disorders to attend. The production will be changed to fit their needs and the environment will be quite different. Regular Goodspeed patrons should book into other performances so we can keep seats available for this special population and their families.

Q. What changes will you be making to the script?
A. The script will not be altered.

Q.  Is there anything I can do to help someone with sensory input disorders prepare for this new experience?
A. Goodspeed offers a number of pre-show resources to help people with sensory input disorders prepare to see the show. CLICK HERE to view a “Coming to the Theatre” social story video, a plot synopsis, a downloadable written social story, and an Audience Insights Guide along with video clips from the show. Additionally, we can arrange tours of the theatre before you come to the performance. If you are interested in a tour, please contact Kate Micari-Miller at 860.615.0316. There will be a “meet your seat” experience an hour before the performance begins and attendees are welcome to come early to see their seat, view the set on stage, and meet our friendly staff and some cast members. 

Q. Can someone in a wheelchair attend?
A. Yes, there is elevator access to the orchestra level at The Goodspeed and a ramp at The Terris Theatre. Please inform the box office of any mobility issues.

Q. Can attendees bring fidget toys, edibles, electronic devices such as headphones, or other objects to calm their nerves?
A. Yes, attendees are encouraged to bring fidget toys and edibles, but we ask that all electronic devices including phones and tablets be turned off during the performance. We will have complimentary fidgets and earplugs available at the performance.

Q. Can we leave the theatre during the show? If we decide to come back, can we return to our seat?
A. Yes, you are welcome to leave your seat at any time you want. Goodspeed staff will be available to direct you wherever you need to go. Please look for people in orange shirts and feel free to ask questions. These folks will be glad to help you return to your seat whenever you wish.

Q. Can I listen to the music in advance?
A. Yes, we will post clips from the show and send out links before your performance. Stay tuned!

Q. How long is the performance?
A.  Because of Winn Dixie is approximately 2.5 hours including a 15-minute intermission.

Q. How can I help spread the word?

  • Word of mouth - talk about the performance to friends, clients, and parents
  • Print a poster for your office, school or organization. Coming Soon!
  • Post the information on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Coming Soon!: download a social media graphic
  • Include information in your newsletter. If you need graphics or other promotional materials, please contact Katie Desjardins at kdesjardins@goodspeed.org or 860.615.0322

Q. Who should I contact if I have questions about the Sensory-Friendly performance?
A. Please contact Kate Micari-Miller at 860.615.0316 or email her at kmicari@goodspeed.org.



Goodspeed's Sensory-Friendly Performances were developed in cooperation with the students and faculty of Franklin Academy. Franklin Academy is a community-focused boarding and day school in East Haddam where students with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Asperger’s Syndrome learn and master competencies that will enable them to be successful in college and beyond. Franklin Academy students worked with Goodspeed staff to plan the Sensory-Friendly Performance experience and to prepare the educational resources. Some of these Franklin Academy students will be the theatre on the day of the performance to greet you and help you find your seats. Learn more about Franklin Academy