BWW Previews: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Straz Center For The Performing Art's TECO Theater with Sensory-Friendly Performance

BWW Previews: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Straz Center For The Performing Art's TECO Theater with Sensory-Friendly Performance
Carol Cole Summers and Wren
Livesay in A Christmas Carol.

Just in time for the holidays, The Patel Conservatory is bringing the beloved tale of transformation, A Christmas Carol, on December 1-3 to the Straz Center for the Performing Art's TECO Theater.

Those with sensitivity issues, autism and other disabilities who have never experienced the magic of live theatre will be able to see this holiday treat with special accommodations on December 2.

The theatre has addressed issues like abrupt changes in lighting, has lowered the sound, and reduced strobe lights. Patrons are able to talk and leave their seats during the performance and there will be a designated quiet area within the theater.

Director Matthew Belopavlovich said the goal is to make the arts accessible to everybody, as sometimes the theatre experience is limited for those with a sensitivity.

"At Straz, we are doing our best to make sure theatre is accessible to all. We want to provide a welcoming environment that's judgement-free to come and enjoy this holiday classic."

Dawson Snyder, who plays young Ebenezer Scrooge, discovered a love of theatre, music and dance at the tender age of 7 and became hooked. Fast forward 4 years and 2.5 years with The Patel Conservatory and he is proud to be starring in Charles Dickens' classic holiday tale.

Snyder's scene is especially emotional, so he plans to tug firmly on the audience' heartstrings. "It's a sad scene, so I want them to feel sad," he said.

In this role, he gets to act with the older students and said he has a great time. "Straz treats kids so well. It's the best place ever. I get to have fun, be myself and hang out with friends."

Patel also offers high school students in need of volunteer hours an opportunity for hands-on training in their apprentice program. High school apprentice Olivia Traud is learning professional stage makeup application and will be working on her own come performance time.

A member of Patel Conservatory for a year and a half, high school senior Bailey Walman described being cast as the elder Scrooge as a huge honor. His goal is for patrons to experience a real and honest performance, to leave the theatre feeling joy in their hearts.

"We need to feel like Christmas is year-round because people are more joyful around Christmas time, more kind and cheerful. The journey Scrooge takes really inspires him to be more spontaneous with his love," he explained. "I want the audience to walk away with that joy. It's the key to Christmastime and it's something we really need in our lives right now. I want them to have joy in their hearts and to spread that joy."

Featuring 34 elementary, middle school and high school student, the performance is a perfect start to the hectic holiday season. Despite being performed by the students, the play is a lavish production, featuring puppets and all the magical experiences you would expect from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Belopavlovich is confident theatregoers will not leave disappointed.

"I hope that our audience feels ready for the holidays after our production of A Christmas Carol. I want them to walk away with - what we all need in this world - just valuing the people in our lives and those special moments. I want them to leave the show feeling the charitable spirit of the holiday."

A Christmas Carol will be presented in the TECO Theater Dec. 1-3. Performances are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. (sensory friendly) and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Regularly priced tickets are $15 and may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at

Bring a toy and enjoy some hot cocoa before the show! Please join Patel Conservatory and USAmeriBank in the Joy of Giving Toy Drive. The toy drive will kick off with the run of A Christmas Carol. Help make 10,000 smiles this Christmas by donating a toy or gift to this free holiday event to be held Saturday, December 23, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium. Donation bins are available at the Patel Conservatory and USAmeriBank's Ybor & downtown locations. Visit for suggested toys and gifts.

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From This Author Deborah Bostock-Kelley

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