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Theater Works at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts introduces a new Sensory Friendly Program intended to make its performances accessible for patrons with sensory sensitivities.  

Peoria, Arizona (April 16, 2015) Theater Works at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA) will host its first sensory friendly performance in conjunction with the YouthWorks production of A Year with Frog and Toad on Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 2pm.  This unique, enjoyable performance will be adapted for people of all ages with sensory sensitivities.

Sensory integration difficulties or sensory sensitivity affects many people with different types of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  They have difficulty processing everyday sensory information such as sounds, sights and smells.  The sensory friendly performance of Frog and Toad will be presented by its regular cast and production team, however it will adapt special features to the show including: dimmed house lights instead of complete darkness, adjusted stage lights, reduced sound levels, a quiet room and extra ushers to help facilitate other needs.  Patrons will be able to meet the actors after the show.

A “Greet Your Seat” open house event will take place on Saturday, April 25th from 10am to 12pm.  This is an opportunity for patrons who are new to theater experiences to visit the theater space before the show.  No reservations are required for the open house.  Special resource materials will be available; these include: a social story, study guides and a parent/guardian tip sheet.

Chris Hamby, Theater Works’ Director of Education and Outreach realized the significant need for performing arts sensory programming during a presentation at ASU by the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC).  He began researching avenues to develop such a program at Theater Works.  “A Year with Frog and Toad is an enchanting tale full of life lessons that people of all ages and levels can relate to and it seemed like the perfect production to integrate with sensory friendly programming,” says Hamby.

“Many people hesitate to attend live theater because they do not know how individuals with sensory needs might react. Our objective is for families and guardians to see Theater Works’ Sensory program as a safe and accepting environment to enjoy live theater,” continues Hamby.  “There are a few theaters outside Arizona, such as the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and Dallas Children’s Theater in Texas that have very successful live theater accessibility programs.”

Theater Works has longtime relationships with Valley programs such as One Step Beyond (OSB) whose objective is to provide developmentally challenged individuals a life of fulfillment.  Another important collaboration is with the City of Peoria Adaptive Program, whose participants perform at Theater Works yearly for their “Shining Stars” performances.

Veronica Ragland, former CEO for OSB and current Project Team Lead for Treasure House, a new West Valley development that will be home to 24 young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, says, “Everyone has sensory sensitivity.  Some have heightened sensitivity because of a physical or developmental condition.  Consider the sound of an emotionally intense music score or dialogue or the sight of abruptly flashing theater lights.  The producers of “Frog & Toad” have researched and intentionally developed a production that seeks to welcome, comfort, and encourage interaction with patrons who have heightened sensitivities." 

With more than 3.5 million Americans living with an autism spectrum disorder (Buescher et al., 2014), Theater Works realizes there is a need and wants to meet it. 

For more information on the Sensory Performance of A Year With Frog and Toad or to buy tickets, call the Theater Works Box Office at 623.815.7930 Monday - Friday 10am to 4pm or visit

Theater Works, at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is entering its 30th season of providing exceptional theater to the West Valley.  As a destination, it features more then 200 events a year including: live theater, classical concerts, jazz, popular music, dance, comedy, cultural events, festivals, youth and adult education classes and much more.  Theater Works is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, call the Box Office at 623.815.7930 or visit



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