Summerset Theatre and Autism Friendly Austin (of the Hormel Historic Home) are joining forces to present a Sensory Friendly/Relaxed production of Mary Poppins at Riverland’s Frank W. Bridges Theater in Austin, Minnesota, Saturday, August 6 at 1:00 pm.

Why Do We Need a Sensory Friendly/Relaxed Mary Poppins?

Disney's "Mary Poppins" 40th Anniversary Edition DVD Launch Party - Arrivals
Getty Images

In a message from Summerset Theatre and Autism Friendly Austin, they said theater and music enthusiasts with autism, sensory processing challenges, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many other cognitive/mental health challenges have unique and varying sensory needs and sensitivities...but still love the theater and still love music.

To make sure everyone can be involved in theater and music, the very first Sensory Friendly/Relaxed performance will have sensory supports and modifications balanced with the engaging theater experience desired by all children and families.

What's a Sensory Friendly Performance Mean To Me?

Disney's "Mary Poppins" 40th Anniversary Edition DVD Launch Party - After-party
Getty Images

Here's what's different -

  • Theater house lighting left low, not turned off.
  • Reduced sound volume
  • Quiet/sensory space available adjacent to the theater
  • Ability to move about (or even exit theater for a time if necessary) during the performance.
  • Additional staff to assist audience members
  • Sensory supports available (example: noise-canceling headphones, fidgets, weighted blankets etc.)
  • Access to a sensory guide and social narrative available prior to the performance.

Mary Barinka, the Community Autism Resource Specialist at the Hormel Historic Home, said,

Summerset Theater became a certified Autism Friendly location back during Covid, and we had our sights set on providing this opportunity for close to two years now. It’s so exciting to have it come to fruition.

Youth attending the three autism summer camps hosted by the Hormel Historic Home are provided free tickets and accommodated seating for the event, courtesy of Summerset Theatre...It’s been a long time coming and a collaborative effort.

Are People with Sensory Issues Limited to the Audience?

Randy Forster of Summerset Theatre said no, that is not the case.

“We have cast many talented actors on the autism spectrum and those experiencing similar challenges described above, so we are eager to offer a successful, enjoyable experience for a neurodiverse audience as well....

The goal is to offer this type of performance on a regular basis. We will learn as we go, but are determined to continue this unique opportunity for the Austin community going forward! Everyone is welcome to attend our sensory friendly performances!”
Historic Hormel Home - Youtube - click for link.

Personal Note: A big kudos to Summerset Theatre and Autism Friendly Austin for recognizing how we as individuals may have the best intentions, but not all the knowledge needed to properly reach the goal. Both groups consulted with Ms. Gina Brady, OTR/L Senior Therapist, Sensory Supports, and Training Program Manager at Fraser, Minneapolis (Minnesota’s largest and most experienced provider of autism and early childhood mental health services).

What: Sensory Friendly/Relaxed production of Mary Poppins
When: Saturday, August 6 at 1:00 pm.
Where: Riverland’s Frank W. Bridges Theater on
How Much: $20 adult, $12 child/student - click HERE to buy tickets.

Click here for the Sensory Friendly Fact Sheet (PDF) for Mary Poppins.

If you're heading out on I-90, check out the reviews for the most important part of travel. Yes, I mean the Rest Areas. People take the time to review rest areas. Who knew?

Google Reviews of SE Minnesota Rest Areas

Some are funny, some are serious and some just make you scratch your head.
attachment-Play 8 Rochester Area Golf Courses (1)

As always, if you have a comment, complaint, or concern about something I wrote here, please let me know:

Click Play to Hear The Y-105FM Early Morning Show Radio-On-Demand Podcast!


Listen On-Demand with the Y105FM app, and on the following podcast platforms: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

More From KDHL Radio