Going to the Theater


By Stephanie Olson,
Board Member,
Colorado Families for Hands & Voices

Last year, my husband and I attended a performance of Wicked and Lion King in London.  It was one of the highlights of the year for me. When the National Touring Production of Wicked came to Denver last November we just had to take our daughter. This time I would be prepared to really enjoy the show. I had read the book, purchased the CD of Wicked in advance and read through the lyrics to familiarize myself with the performance. I had always thought the songs were just fluff until I was able to finally read and hear how the lyrics work to develop the storyline. I even tried to obtain a script of the performance in advance. On the day of the show, I tried the FM system but there were difficulties in getting it to work with my CI. Madeline and my husband did an outstanding job of giving me detailed information and filling in the missing pieces after the performance. However, I was still missing that in the moment enjoyment of the theater. An ASL interpreted performance was available but since I am not fluent in ASL it would require me to concentrate so hard on the interpreters that I would miss most of the performance.

I decided to check into Open Caption Performances.  I met with Jamie Alexander, Audience Development Coordinator for the Denver Center of Performing Arts to discuss Open Captioned Performances (OC).  Jamie was generous with her time and clarified several concerns that families and I had in regard to OC.

In Denver, Open Captioned Performances (OC) are available for one performance only, usually on the last Sunday of a National Touring Broadway production. The OC equipment is provided through a grant that is shared by the all the cities hosting the traveling Broadway shows. After that performance the OC equipment is flown to the next location for that city’s one and only OC performance. This grant will end in July. It is hoped that the grant can be renewed.  Attending an OC theater performance is a great way to show support for continuing the grant.

I decided to give Open Captioning a try and went to see Legally Blonde.  It was amazing to discover that it was actually a very funny and enjoyable show. For the first time ever, I had full access to the witty lines and the songs in the production. I laughed when my husband and other people in the audience were laughing. I didn’t have to wait until intermission or after the show to get a recap of the funny or poignant lines. 

A section of approximately 16 seats are reserved in the Golden Circle. While these seats are expensive, they are available for half price for OC requests. The seats are spectacular as they are in the second or third row from the stage. One person who is not hard of hearing may attend with the individual requesting OC tickets. The purpose of the limit is to allow as many individuals who request OC an opportunity to attend the show. There were three of us that were going to the show which meant that I needed to find another ticket in another part of the theater for either my husband or daughter. Jamie Alexander and I discussed the pros and cons of this and while this is not a perfect system for families (yet), OC is still a valuable opportunity to seize.  I resolved the seating issue by purchasing two tickets in another part of the theater and encouraged my daughter to invite a friend. 

It is worth talking directly with someone like Jamie as one may be able to find other seats that are close and full view of OC but allow families to sit together. Check out the theater listings in your city and take in an OC theater performance.  The thrill of Broadway is becoming available to all of us.  It may require a certain day, certain seats, and have a few restrictions but we have to start somewhere and support the attempts that are being made to provide all of with an opportunity to experience Broadway.   ~

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