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THE LION KING Welcomes TDF's Introduction To Theatre Program and Autism Friendly Performance in March

This marks the first time TDF has partnered with the landmark Broadway musical since the production's emotional reopening last fall.  

THE LION KING Welcomes TDF's Introduction To Theatre Program and Autism Friendly Performance in March

Two upcoming events have been announced for The Lion King-the first time TDF has partnered with the landmark Broadway musical since the production's emotional reopening last fall.


On Wednesday, March 2 at 2 p.m., 1,500 New York City public school students along with their teachers and teaching artists will attend a matinee performance of The Lion King. This is not only the first Broadway full house for TDF's Introduction to Theatre program in almost two years, but also the first time a Broadway show has been filled with students from one program serving NYC public school students since performances resumed in 2021. Participants come from 22 public schools located across the five boroughs. There is no cost to the schools or the students participating in this TDF program.

Later that week, on Sunday, March 6 at 1 p.m., the Minskoff Theatre will be filled with families for a special Autism Friendly Performance of the international musical hit.

"We're thrilled to be bringing full houses of students and families with children and adults on the spectrum back to live theatre performances," said TDF's Executive Director Victoria Bailey. "Disney Theeatrical has always been a wonderful partner and goes out of its way to accommodate participants in TDF's programs. For many, attending these performances is life changing."

TDF INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE is a project-based arts education program that includes attending a Broadway or Off Broadway show. TDF provides a teaching artist and tickets to the production at no cost to the school or students. Central to the program is the classroom project, which is designed by the classroom teacher and the teaching artist to prepare participants for the show. It is primarily an opportunity to engage students in the creative process in a hands-on way. Students receive a total of eight in-class pre- and post-performance workshops from TDF teaching artists, who work directly with classroom teachers.

For more than 25 years, Introduction to Theatre has introduced over 150,000 middle and high school students to the power of live performances.

The students attending The Lion King on March 2 come from 22 NYC schools:

The Bronx - Bronx Community High School; Creston Academy; Harriet Tubman Charter School; Marble Hill School for International Studies; Mott Hall Community School; Theatre Arts Production Company School

Brooklyn - Brooklyn High School of the Arts; The Brooklyn International High School; Fort Hamilton High School; George Westinghouse High School; High School for Service & Learning at Erasmus; Juan Morel Campos Secondary School; M.S. 839

Manhattan - Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School; Democracy Prep Endurance Middle School; Democracy Prep Harlem High School; Millennium High School; Stuyvesant High School

Queens - International High School for Health Sciences; Robert F. Kennedy Community High School; Robert F. Wagner Jr. Secondary School for Arts & Technology

Staten Island - CSI High School for International Studies

TDF AUTISM FRIENDLY PERFORMANCES launched in 2011 with a special performance of The Lion King. Since then, there have been Autism Friendly Performances of Broadway's Aladdin, Cats, Come From Away, Elf the Musical, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Kinky Boots, Mary Poppins, Matilda the Musical, My Fair Lady, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The King and I, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.

This is one of many TDF Accessibility Programs. To create an autism-friendly setting, the shows are performed in a supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults diagnosed with autism or other sensory sensitivities. Slight adjustments are made to the productions, including the reduction of jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theatre lobby, there are staffed break areas in case theatregoers need to leave their seats during the performance. TDF purchases every seat in the theatre for our Autism Friendly Performances and makes tickets available at discount prices exclusively to families, groups, schools, etc. whose members include individuals on the autism spectrum. During the pandemic, TDF kept its Autism Friendly Performances community engaged with special virtual experiences, including The Magic of Kevin Spencer, original musicals starring the neurodiverse puppet Little B., and Q&As with actors from Newsies and other Broadway shows.



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