(October 12, 2014) - On Saturday, the New England Chapter of Autism Speaks partnered with Broadway In Boston and Disney Theatrical Productions to present a sensory-friendly performance of the "The Lion King" at the Boston Opera House.
“Autism Speaks is extremely proud to host the first ever autism-friendly performance of The Lion King here in Boston,” said Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks, addressing the audience of more than 2,500 members of the New England autism community moments before the show. ”There are going to be a lot of stars up on this stage today but this afternoon, the real star is you."
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who served as honorary chair of the event, addressed the audience and spoke about the importance of providing educational opportunities for children with special needs. “Thanks to Broadway In Boston and Disney Theatrical Productions for working with Autism Speaks to make this show happen,” Walsh said. “The best part for me was watching the reaction of the kids to the show. Incredible.”
Raymond L. Flynn, a former mayor of Boston and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, who attended the performance with his grandson Brendan, shared his experience in The Boston Herald, writing, "I applaud Autism Speaks, the Boston Opera House and Broadway in Boston for giving our family and so many other families across Massachusetts the chance to share the gift of theater and live performance with our special needs family member." Read more of Flynn's remarks here.
“What a show it was. I cried at the opening ‘Circle of Life,’ which is so overwhelming anyway with elephants and zebras coming down the aisles. I looked at the mom next to me, who also had a young adult son with her, and she was crying too,” said Karen Mariscal, who attended the show with her son, Billy. ”The world is a different place than it was in 1994 when Billy was first diagnosed. Billy has made great strides to try to fit into our world, and now it seems that our world is beginning to meet him half-way. Amazing.”
Rebecca Daugherty, who attended the performance with her children Riley and Charlotte, said "My entire family performs in local community theater and to be able to attend shows with Riley means so much to me. I was crying by the end of the opening song, I just couldn't believe we were there."
Thank you to Broadway in Boston, the Lion King Cast and Production Team, and our fantastic sponsors: Granite Telecommunications, Boston Red Sox, Arbella Insurance, Clay Buchholz Foundation, Liberty Mutual, Shire, SynapDx, & Millenium Partners!