First of its kind “sensory friendly” kids play comes to Valley Center Stage

The play is a partnership with Encompass for children with sensory sensitivity

The third time appears to be the charm for Valley Center Stage, which, after attempts in both of the last two years will finally get to perform their adaptation of “Three Little Pigs: The Musical” this weekend.

The 45-minute show is an adaptation of a Broadway musical that Director Julie Lester called a “wonderful toe tapping musical for kids 3 and up.”

After an outdoor performance at Si View Park last weekend, the theater group is taking the show back to their home stage at the Sallal Grange for three more free renditions of the show.

The play coming to fruition on its third attempt isn’t the only reason to celebrate. Sunday’s performance will feature a first for the Valley — a “sensory friendly” performance in partnership with Encompass NW.

According to the American Repertory Theater, a sensory-friendly performance is a theater production that welcomes individuals with sensory needs, including people with autism. It includes a modified version of the show, as well as training both actors and staff.

To the theater group’s knowledge, there has never been such a show in the Valley, said Lester, the show’s director and theater group’s youth programs director. Similar shows elsewhere in the county are rare, but becoming more common, she said.

“A lot of the time parents with children who have sensory sensitivities have to leave performances early,” Lester said. “When they come in [to our show], they’ll become familiar with us and enjoy the show from beginning to end.”

For the show, staff members at Encompass trained performers, crew and those who will be working concessions on how to make the performance more enjoyable and welcoming. Encompass members also watched a rehearsal of the show this past week and provided notes.

Changes to the performance include stage lights staying on the whole show, audience lights remaining on and dimmed, reduction of the music volume and only about 60% of the theater it full, with ample spacing provided. Performers will also greet children, in costume, in the lobby prior to the show.

“The difference is not really in the play, but in the environment,” Lester said. “Although you do have to choose your play wisely.”

Online tickets for the show are currently sold out, but some remaining tickets will still be available at the door. The show will run on July 23 at 2 p.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. The sensory friendly show will happen on July 24 at 2 p.m.