Smith Center offers sensory-friendly performances Saturday

For the first time, The Smith Center will offer sensory-friendly performances this weekend.

Community members of all ages are invited to attend performances of “Shh! We Have a Plan,” running at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 21 in Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith Center. There were eight shows for school groups in the days leading up to this weekend's shows. 

"The whole goal of putting on a sensory-friendly performance is to welcome in people in the community who may have been diagnosed with autism or have other sensory deficits and they need a more relaxed, welcoming, accepting environment," said Melanie Jupp, program manager with The Smith Center's Education and Outreach Department.

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The Smith Center hopes families can enjoy the experience together.

"A lot of the times in this community if one member of the family needs specific services or has special needs, it's difficult to take everybody out to do something together," Jupp said. "By offering an experience that is tailored to their comfortability, we hope that it will allow families to experience this together."

Based on the children’s book by Chris Haughton, "Shh! We Have A Plan" is a 60-minute, nonverbal production features magic, music and puppetry. The show is performed by Cahoots NI, a children’s theater company from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The cast of "Shh! We Have a Plan" has already performed at least five sensory-friendly shows during their U.S. tour. No language is used during the show apart from going "shh."

"What we find in a sensory performance is that we bring down the sound a little bit to a comfortable level for everyone. The lighting can be adjusted slightly so there's no bright flashing lights that everything is peaceful," said Hugh Brown, "Shh! I Have a Plan" cast member. "Also, I will come out at the start of the show in a sensory-friendly performance and I will introduce myself and I'll talk to the audience. I'll make sure, and we'll check the sound together and we'll check the lights. I make sure everybody's OK before we begin."

Quiet spaces will also be provided in the lobby for audience members who might need to take a break from the performance. Guests will receive a pre-visit guide prior to the performance.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at on The Smith Center's website or by calling 702-749-2000 and mentioning promo code SENSORY.

This weekend's performances are part of a larger initiative to have more sensory-friendly performances. The Smith Center's Jupp said they have been exploring the programming for years and have attended similar performances in other cities.

The Smith Center is planning on having a sensory-friendly performance of "The Lion King" in November. 

"The point of offering a sensory-friendly performance is that we want our community to know everyone is welcome here. We want the arts to be accessible to anyone in the community who wants to experience the arts," Jupp said. "We are always welcoming of anybody, whatever need they may have, whatever adjustments they may need."

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