Wicked to stage first autism-friendly performance

Savannah Stevenson and Emma Hatton in the West End production of Wicked. Photo: Matt Crockett
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Wicked is to hold its first ever autism-friendly performance in May.

Producers of the West End musical have worked with the National Autistic Society on the performance, which will have dedicated quiet and activity areas manned by trained staff.

Sound and lighting will also be altered to avoid autistic audience members experiencing sensory overload, and people will be able to leave and reenter the auditorium as needed.

NAS chief executive Mark Lever said it would be the first theatre performance that some of the audience will have seen.

He explained: “Autistic people and their families tell us that they would love to go to the theatre but because of sensory issues are prevented from doing so. Wicked’s production team have taken great care in adapting the show which means that for some, this will be the very first time that they are able to experience the thrill of a live performance.”

More than one in 100 have autism in the UK, and many with the condition are acutely sensitive to sights and sounds that others can tune out, such as background noise or fluorescent lighting.

Wicked’s UK executive producer Michael McCabe said: “We’r­e delighted to be able to welcome fans of Wicked who wouldn’t normally be able to attend a standard performance, and look forward to what promises to be an inspiring experience for us all.”

The musical is the latest in a number of West End shows – including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, War Horse and Matilda – to stage a relaxed performance for audiences with learning disabilities.

The autism-friendly matinee will take place on May 14.

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