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Autism-Friendly Performance: OKLAHOMA!

What is an Autism-Friendly Performance?

Autism-Friendly Performances are designed and intended for families with children on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory issues. At these performances the theater environment will be altered, providing a safe, sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming for these families. Autism-Friendly Performances are recommended for those families bringing a loved one has a developmental disability, and their teachers and advocates who are familiar with and accepting of behaviors exhibited by some individuals with autism.

To create this Autism-Friendly environment, tickets for this performance are being sold only to those on the spectrum and their families. You can purchase your tickets online (below) and choose your seats according to where you will feel most comfortable.

While the performance will be performed as written, adjustments have been made to alleviate any overly loud sounds, jarring noises and intense lighting. Special resources such as a character guide, plot synopsis, FAQs and "Coming to the Theater" video are provided below to help you decide if this show is appropriate for your family.

The Boston Conservatory will be providing an array of services such as a "Quiet Room", on-site EMS and specially trained staff to help you and your family and friends have the most comfortable and supportive experience at the theater - the full list of services is provided below in the FAQs.


WHERE: The Boston Conservatory Theater – 31 Hemenway St., Boston, MA 02115
WHEN: Sunday, October 20, 2013
TIME: 2 p.m. 

Winner of numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, OKLAHOMA! is the classic American musical that launched the songwriting collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Set in turn-of-the-century Oklahoma, amidst the high-spirited rivalry between local farmers and cowboys, Oklahoma! is the cherished love story of Curly, a cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl. The musical features such favorite songs as People Will Say We’re in Love, Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’ and Surrey With the Fringe on Top.

Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed by Neil Donohoe
Music Directed by Bill Casey
Conducted by Reuben M. Reynolds, III
Choreographed by Michelle Chassé








Q: Is this performance only for families of children with autism or other sensory issues, or can anyone attend?
A: Autism-Friendly Performances are intended primarily for families with children on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory issues. In addition to altering the theater environment to cater to those with sensory issues, a main goal of this program is to provide a safe, judgment-free, comfortable experience for the entire family. We achieve this by recommending this performance for those families bringing loved ones who have a developmental disability, and their advocates who are familiar with and accepting of behaviors exhibited by some children with autism.

Q: What accommodations will there be? How is it different from other performances at The Boston Conservatory?
A: The Autism-Friendly accommodations are:

  • Lights remain on, but low dimmed, inside the theater 
  • Comfortable volume and consistent sound levels, elimination of loud sound effects.
  • Children are free to talk and leave their seat under parental supervision - if you feel it is making an impact on others' experience in the theater, we encourage you to come and go as needed.
  • The performance will include an extended intermission.
  • "QUIET/ACTIVITY ROOM" - Located just next to the theater, a quiet room will be provided for children whose parents may want to remove an overstimulated child from the theater and have a place to refulate and hopefully return to the show. Mats, chairs and tables will be provided, as well as a variety of coloring activities, sticker books and fidgets. This area will be staffed by our Music Education graduate students trained to work with those on the spectrum.
  • Other staff on site will include an EMS worker and ushers, cast and crew all specially trained for this performance.
  • Snacks and drinks (non-glass items only) will be permitted in the theater, though we strongly encourage the use of the lobby and intermission for this purpose. 
  • Headphones and earplugs may also be permitted if needed. 

Q: Will there be support services at the show? 
A: See accomodations above. On-site staff will be specially trained by Dr. Rhoda Bernard and the staff of the Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum on understanding and working with children on the Autism Spectrum in preparation for this performance.

Q: Will the show on stage be any different from other performances that are not Autism-Friendly?
A: OKLAHOMA! will not have any content altered for this performance - it has been deemed "family-friendly". Sensory-effects, however, will be slightly altered. Amplified audio levels are made to be more comfortable and consistent without abrupt spikes in volume or jarring sound effects. And lights remain on, but dimmed inside the theater.

Q: Will it be noisy during the show?
A: It's very possible - expect there to be more than the usual ambient sounds from the audience.

Q: How can I prepare my child for this outing in the theater?
A: Under the resources above, we've posted a video to help your family become familiar with the grounds and theater interior. There is also a special plot synopsis and character guide to learn more about OKLAHOMA! before your child sees the show. 

Q: My child uses a wheelchair? What is the best access to the theater?
A: Our theater is located on a one-way street (Hemenway St.) - you can pull right up to the sidewalk (or next to the parked cars) for unloading/drop-off at the main doors of our theater building. We do not have on-site parking, so this will be the most convenient way for you to drop-off your child and before proceeding to find parking. A list of area parking garages is provided HERE.

Q: Are service animals welcome?
A: Unfotunately, we cannot accommodate service animals.

Q: I have a question not addressed here. Who may I speak with at The Boston Conservatory to get more information on the Autism-Friendly services and accomodations?
A: You may contact the Director of The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum, Rhoda Bernard at (617) 912-9104 or by e-mail at .


Rhoda Bernard
Director of The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum
(617) 912-9104

Kim Haack
Director of External Relations
(617) 912-9150

Olivia Levering
Audience Services Manager
(617) 912-9142

Special thanks to Theatre Development Fund's Autism Theatre Initiative for serving as an advisor,

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