The production is working closely with the National Autistic Society, the UK's leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families, to create a friendly and supportive environment in which to enjoy the show. The specially adapted performance is suitable for people with autism, with trained staff on hand in dedicated quiet and activity areas should anyone need to leave their seats.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “We were delighted to be offered the opportunity to work with the Apollo Victoria Theatre, the Ambassador Theatre Group and the producers of this hugely successful show. More than one in one hundred people have autism in the UK, and many of those affected by this lifelong condition are acutely sensitive to everyday sights and sounds, which other people are able to filter out, such as fluorescent lighting, background music or traffic noise. 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 of the audience on 14 May, this will be the very first time that they are able to experience the thrill of a live performance.”
Executive Producer (UK) Michael McCabe said: “We are greatly indebted to the National Autistic Society and to the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) for their support in arranging this dedicated Autism-Friendly performance. We’r¬e 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.”
People with autism can experience sensory overload so to deal with this there will be adjustments made to the sounds and lighting. People will be able to leave the auditorium as needed and there will be chill out spaces identified around the theatre. Theatre staff, cast and crew will have been given an insight into autism so they are more aware of the needs of this audience.
Based on the international best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire that ingeniously re-imagined the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
Wicked has music and lyrics by multi Grammy® and Academy® Award-winner Stephen Schwartz (Godspell; Disney’s Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and is based on the novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by Gregory Maguire and adapted for the stage by Winnie Holzman. Musical staging is by Tony® Award-winner Wayne Cilento and the production is directed by two-time Tony® Award-winner Joe Mantello.