Since 2008, Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) has been presenting one-of-a-kind, live entertainment events that truly can be described as “something for everyone.” This month, they expanded their offerings when they hosted a sensory-friendly performance of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.

Sensory-friendly performances are designed to create a performing arts experience that is welcoming to all families with children and/or adults with autism or other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities. Held on Dec. 3, the production was the first-ever, sensory-friendly, Broadway production held in North Carolina. And the production was a true labor of love for the DPAC staff.

Nearly a year in advance, DPAC staff, led by Tiffany Malory, community outreach and special projects manager began talking about broadening DPAC’s offerings to include a sensory-friendly performance. Malory secured a partner in Duke Health and the Duke Autism Center and worked with the cast and crew of The Grinch to adjust the performance to ensure it would be enjoyable for all. DPAC staff also distributed production handouts to allow parents to have a conversation about what to expect on the day of the performance.

More than 50 volunteers helped transform the DPAC lobby into a space that would meet the needs of the families. Quiet spaces, bean bag chairs and fidgets – a small toy used to reduce anxiety – were distributed when families arrived at the theater. DPAC let the Grinch handle the rest.

More than 1600 guests attended the production and demand is up for future sensory-friendly productions. Take a look at photos from the event by Huth Photography here.

NOTE: DPAC already offers sign language interpretation for guests with hearing disabilities; assistive listening devices; audio description services and captioning services.  Contact DPAC for more information.