Sunday 15 June 2014

The Lion King - Autism friendly performance

So the day finally arrived.  After booking tickets more than 6 months ago, the twins, my husband and I were off to the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, to see The Lion King.  I must admit I was a little surprised at how chaotic the foyer was just before the performance.  It was crowded and noisy and there were queues for the toilet.  My husband took the twins to the mens and told me that one poor dad was coaxing his son out of the cubicle as he had locked himself in.  Yep - been there.  That's the best thing about a performance like this.  Your kid makes a weird noise, locks himself in the toilet, refuses to enter the theatre because they're too scared - no worries, we've all been there.  Noone bats an eyelid.  Thankfully the twins were on their best behaviour for most of the time.
This is a waxwork - amazing!

It was a great atmosphere.  There was a feel of excitement and I could tell that none was taking this opportunity for granted.  Being able to take a kid to a three and half hour show is not usually possible.
We're almost there!

The foyer felt 'busier' than this photo appears
inside the foyer

The twins were primed.  We'd been listening to the Lion King soundtrack for 2 weeks.  T1 had seen the movie but T2 wasn't interested in watching it at home.

I loved was that the actor who played Scar came out and spoke to the audience before it started and introduced all the characters and reassured that kids that he wasn't too scary!

We were asked to do an interview by the director of Autism Awareness, Nicole Rogerson (do you remember Danno and Jonno - well she's married to Danno).  She set up the therapy centre we first attended, the Lizard Centre, as well as the charity Autism Awareness.  I was asked to do a quick chat to her for the ABC cameras.  She asked myself and the boys some questions and they filmed us taking our seats.  When I eagerly switched onto ABC news later on I realised we'd been cut (there goes my brush with fame :-)!!)

We were seated very near the front.  I would never have taken them to sit up the back.  It would have been too far from the action and they would have lost interest.  There was quite a lot of noise coming from behind but those of us up the front were so captivated that there was not much noise.  Overall the audience was great for a 3 hour plus show (there was a 20 minute intermission).  During intermission the therapists lined the street outside the theatre to stop anyone absconding straight into traffic.
Interior of the Capitol Theatre

T1 was perfectly behaved.   T2 was really good - he did make a few little noises that none would have noticed, switched chairs a few times and ate a lot of snacks but I was impressed by how engaged he was with the show.  The amount of Wh questions T2 asked was amazing.  Here's a sample.  'Where's Simba gone?'  'Is he out there?' Where's Moustafa?  Is he dead?  Why?
When I tried to explain he'd gone to heaven he said 'up there' and pointed at the ceiling (-:  He did get a little obsessed with that.  And I had to explain that Simba and Nala are now all grown up.  In the end I said don't worry they'll all be back at the end (thank goodness for curtain calls).

I'm very pleased to say that two Autism Friendly performances of The Lion King in Brisbane and Melbourne have been announced.  If you can afford it (its pretty pricey) I definitely recommend going.

My Tips  - Prepare!

  • Take plenty of snacks
  • Purchase tickets in around the 4th row, not up the back.
  • Buy the soundtrack and get your kids familiar with it - I played it in the car and put it on my phone.
  • If they'll watch the movie that's good prep too.  As long your kids know they aren't going to see the cartoon movie.
  • I was hoping you could buy the DVD of the stage show or watch clips on youtube, but unfortunately you can't.  I showed the kids pictures of the characters and their costumes on the internet.
  • Read them the basic story line
  • Print out the social story put together by Autism Awareness.  You can find it here.
  • Some kids had headphones, don't be scared to bring them along if you need to.
  • Relax! - and don't worry about behaviour - everyone understands.  That's the best thing about these performances.

1 comment:

  1. Good to read this roundup. It sounded fab. I saw Benison O'Reilly today and she was there too and enjoyed it a lot. I must take the kids one day, the wee ones would like it ... but - eek - expensive!