Disney's THE LION KING and NEWSIES to Offer New Accessibility Services on Broadway
Supported by funds from the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council, LDC and the City of New York, Disney's hit musicals The Lion King and Newsies have joined The Broadway Accessibility/Audience Expansion Initiative, which creates collaboration between producers and accessibility specialists at all stages of production. The Initiative is a partnership between Inclusion in the Arts, a New York-based not-for-profit, and G-PASS, a service company utilizing technology from Sound Associates Inc., in collaboration with Disney Theatrical Productions. This historic Initiative provides theatre-goers with disabilities a theatre experience as complete and captivating as that enjoyed by non-disabled audience members. The services are: I-Caption for deaf and hard-of-hearing patrons and D-Scriptive for blind and low-vision patrons.
I-Caption, a revolutionary text-based system by Sound Associates Inc., provides the entire script of the show – including character names – as it unfolds in performance, via a hand-held polarized video screen. D-Scriptive provides an extremely thorough audio description of a show on a hand-held unit for blind and low-vision patrons. Both services are integrated into the show's light and electrical cueing system so that the commentary keeps pace with the action onstage. These services are provided for every performance, and evolved from the Infrared Listening System, for which Sound Associates Inc. won a Tony® Award in 1979.
With the addition of The Lion King and Newsies, Inclusion in the Arts and G-PASS expand access to Broadway audiences of all ages in unprecedented ways. The Initiative is particularly proud to showcase Broadway as a welcoming entertainment option for all family members at every show.
"Here at Disney Theatrical Productions we are in the business of exceeding our guests' expectations," said Dana Amendola, VP, Operations, Disney Theatrical Productions. "This wonderful Initiative will help ensure our commitment by offering our deaf, blind and hard-of-hearing patrons an even greater opportunity to experience the magic of Broadway."
"With revolutionary new technology, we are able to introduce special accessibility services to every single performance, thus enabling children in body and at heart to enjoy these productions," states Anne Tramon, VP of Sound Associates Inc., the company that created the technology. "As a result of this Initiative, we are able to expand these services to more productions until they are, one day, standard."
"There is perhaps no stronger shared entertainment experience than seeing live theatre together," said Sharon Jensen, Inclusion in the Arts, Executive Director. "Thanks to the Initiative, now grandparents, parents and children with disabilities can all enjoy live theatre on par with the ways non-disabled audience members do. I-Caption and D-Scriptive give theatregoers of all ages – including those with disabilities – a unique opportunity to create lasting family memories. Disney Theatrical Productions consistently makes Broadway one of New York City's foremost destinations. They have extended their support by offering extraordinary accessibility for audiences at The Lion King and Newsies. In the finest of Disney traditions, cherished memories are now available to all."
Inclusion in the Arts advocates for full inclusion of artists of color and performers with disabilities at all levels of production in theatre, film and television. Our principal aim is to achieve full inclusion in American arts and entertainment so that our stages and screens truly reflect the society in which we live; where each artist is considered on his/her merits as an individual; where the stories being told are drawn from authentic and diverse experiences; and where our individual humanity can be celebrated. In 2011 Inclusion in the Arts received the Tony® Honor for Excellence in the Theatre.
G-PASS is an organization focused on bringing new waves of audiences to the Broadway theatre with groundbreaking computerized systems by Tony® Award–winning Sound Associates Inc., creators of the original Infrared Listening System. G-PASS develops and implements accessibility services to theatre patrons who are deaf, blind, or non-English speaking. With Sound Associates Inc.'s exhaustive research and development, G-PASS has been able to utilize the latest technologies to reach the widest audience.
Connect with G-PASS
Disney Theatrical Productions, a division of The Walt Disney Studios, was formed in 1994 and operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher. Worldwide, its eight Broadway titles have been seen by over 103 million theatergoers, grossed over $7.4 billion and have cumulatively run a staggering 189 years. With 15 productions currently produced or licensed, a Disney musical is being performed professionally somewhere on the planet virtually every hour of the day.
The company's inaugural production, Beauty and the Beast, opened in 1994. It played a remarkable 13-year run on Broadway and has been produced in 28 countries worldwide. In November 1997, Disney opened The Lion King, which received six 1998 Tony® Awards including Best Musical and recently became the highest grossing show in Broadway history. The show continues in its 16th smash year, having welcomed over 66 million visitors worldwide. The Lion King can also currently be seen on tour across North America, the U.K., and Japan, and in London's West End, Hamburg, Tokyo, and Madrid. When it opens in Brazil in March 2013, the show will have been translated into eight different languages (Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese) and performed in 15 different countries on five continents.
Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida opened on Broadway next, winning four 2000 Tony® Awards, and spawning productions around the world. Mary Poppins, a co-production with Cameron Mackintosh, opened in London in 2004 and has established itself as one of the biggest stage musical successes to emerge in recent years. The Tony Award®-winning Broadway production opened in 2006 at Disney's New Amsterdam Theatre, where it continues to delight audiences. Mary Poppins can also be seen on tour across North America and in New Zealand.
Tarzan®, which opened on Broadway in 2006, is now an international hit with an award-winning production in its 5th year in Germany.
In January 2008, The Little Mermaid opened on Broadway and was the #1-selling new musical of that year. Its success continues with three new productions around the world: Holland, Russia and Japan.
Two new critically acclaimed productions opened on Broadway in 2012, receiving seven Tony® Awards between them: Newsies, at the Nederlander Theatre, and Peter and the Starcatcher, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
Other successful stage musical ventures have included King David in concert, the national tour of On The Record, several touring versions of Disney's High School Musical, Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame in Berlin and the premiere of the stage adaptation of Aladdin at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
In addition, DTP licenses stage performance rights to more than a dozen Disney musicals around the world through Music Theatre International.