Paper Mill Playhouse to Offer Autism-Friendly Performance of THE LITTLE MERMAID, 6/26

Paper-Mill-Playhouse-Offers-Autism-Friendly-Performance-of-Disneys-The-Little-Mermaid-20010101

Paper Mill Playhouse, one of the country's premier not-for-profit theaters, has announced a special, Autism/Sensory friendly performance of Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID. This performance, designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum or with other developmental disabilities, and planned in cooperation with Autism New Jersey and Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers, will be held on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at 4:00PM. This is the first time Paper Mill Playhouse has expanded its Autism-Friendly performances to a main stage production.

Tickets for the special Autism-Friendly performance of Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, may be purchased by calling 973-376-4343 or at the Paper Mill Box Office, 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn or online at www.PaperMill.org. Tickets range in price from $26 to $81. Groups of ten or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680. Paper Mill Playhouse also offers gift cards available in any denomination which can be redeemed for any performance. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express accepted. Autism-Friendly performances are supported, in part, by grants from The Merck Company Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Paper Mill Playhouse has long provided a Theater for Everyone model and in its 2010-2011 season the theater began offering a groundbreaking program, Sensory-Friendly, live-theater performances for children with autism and other developmental disabilities, which won the Cultural Access Network of New Jersey's 2011 Innovator's Award.

"I am thrilled that we are expanding our Sensory-Friendly performances to include a main stage production," remarked Lisa Cooney, Paper Mill Playhouse's Director of Education. "Everyone should have the opportunity to experience world-class, live theater, and Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID is the perfect show for all families to experience together. This special 'twilight matinee' is scheduled during after-school hours because many communities are facing an extended school year to make up lost class time following recent storms. What a great way to celebrate the end of the school year by going on a magical adventure with Ariel, Flounder and all of these wonderful Disney characters!"

In a magical kingdom beneath the sea, the beautiful young mermaid Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved stories and the classic Disney animated film, with music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, The Little Mermaid a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. The theater environment will be altered for this performance, providing a sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming to all families. The performance itself will be adjusted with special attention paid to lighting and sound.

Additionally, Paper Mill Playhouse will host a free Open House titled Meet Your Seat on Tuesday, June 25, 2013, from 3:00 to 6:00PM. This is an opportunity for children who are new to the theatrical experience to visit the theater space before the show.

Often children with autism or other developmental disabilities become anxious in new surroundings, new experiences, and they need time to transition. The Meet Your Seat open house provides an opportunity for children to come to the theater in advance of the performance and take time to feel comfortable in this new space. Families can walk the grounds, visit the box office, and go into the theater to see their seats and the stage. The goal is to allow families to become comfortable with the theater prior to the show. No reservations are necessary for the pre-performance Meet Your Seat open house on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

Families are encouraged to stay after the show to enjoy child-friendly seating with a specially created dinner menu at Paper Mill's restaurant, The Carriage House Bistro on the theater's campus. Reservations for The Carriage House Bistro are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 973-609-2429.

"We have received an immense amount of positive feedback from the community for our Autism-Friendly theater performances on Saturday mornings and for school groups," stated Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director for the Millburn theater. "We wanted to open our doors even further and expand these offerings to our main stage. We believe that the joy of live theater should be shared by everyone regardless of developmental or physical disability."

Paper Mill Playhouse embraces a long history of providing access services to patrons of the theater. In addition to Autism-Friendly performances, Paper Mill Playhouse offers a wide variety of access programs and services including: sign-interpreted performances, open-captioned performances, audio-described performances, pre-show sensory seminars and barrier-free access theater-wide. Paper Mill Playhouse's accessibility programs have been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, VSA arts/MetLife, and the New Jersey Department of Recreation as a role model for other performing arts organizations throughout the country.

Paper Mill Playhouse, a not-for-profit arts organization, is one of the country's leading regional theaters. Paper Mill Playhouse programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, A Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Paper Mill Playhouse is a member of Theatre Communications Group, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, the Council of Stock Theatres, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.

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