Virginia Rep offering sensory friendly performances

Virginia Repertory Theatre is now staging sensory friendly performances for children with autism and other sensory, social, or learning disabilities.

Photo by: leadenhall

While live theater is an experience all parents and teachers want for their children, some kids have a hard time with all that’s wrapped up in going to see a play. Unpredictable lighting, loud noises, the expectation to sit still for an extended period of time–those are just some of the elements of the live theater experience that can be challenging for children with autism and other sensory, social, or learning disabilities.

With the help and input of specialists from The Faison School for Autism, Autism Society of Central Virginia, Chesterfield County Public Schools, Henrico County Public Schools, Northstar Academy, and Commonwealth Autism, Virginia Repertory Theatre is creating a safe, comfortable space where they (and their families) can truly enjoy quality children’s theater.

Virginia Rep will adapt select performances to be “sensory friendly” with the hope of creating a welcoming atmosphere that meets these children where they are. These select performances will not be open to the general public, allowing Virginia Rep’s staff, volunteers, and performers to best serve the special needs of these exceptional audiences.

Adaptations include…

  • Providing lobby space for patrons who need a break from the show
  • Allowing extra seats in between patrons
  • Allowing snacks and comfort toys in the theatre
  • Eliminating any strobe or flash lighting
  • Minimizing loud, startling noises
  • Eliminating intermission, shortening performance length to 45 to 60 minutes
  • Keeping the house lights at 35 to 50 percent (i.e. no blackouts)

Sensory friendly performances are available for school groups and families. Teachers and/or parents will need to reserve tickets through the Virginia Rep website.

Upcoming performances are…

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For schools

Croaker, The Frog Prince Musical

Monday, April 11th • 10:30 AM
(There’s already a waiting list for this one, but it couldn’t hurt to throw your hat in the ring.)

For families

Croaker, The Frog Prince Musical

Saturday, March 26th • 10:30 AM

The Golden Goose

Saturday, August 6th • 10:30

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All performances take place at the Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn (1601 Willow Lawn Drive). For more information, visit or contact Virginia Rep’s Education Manager, Rai Anne Larkins at

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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