Bringing the Arts to Youth...
and Youth to the Arts!


Autism/Special Needs Friendly Performances

Each of us has been touched, in some way, by a friend or family member with special needs or diagnosed along the Autism spectrum. ArtsNashoba is honored to present a performances specifically adapted for this special population, their families, their educators and caregivers.  For more information about ArtsNashoba's Autism/Special Needs performances, please email ArtsNashoba President Bonnie Marchesani at

A preparatory video for those planning to attend our Autism/Special Needs Friendly performances.

What is an Autism/Special Needs-Friendly Performance?

There are often questions about just what these performances look like – hopefully you find this information helpful.

Autism/Special Needs-Friendly Performances are designed and intended for those who are on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory issues. At these performances, the theater environment will be altered, providing a safe, sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming for all. Autism/Special Needs-Friendly Performances are recommended for those families and caregivers that would like to bring a loved one with a developmental disability, and for their teachers and advocates who are familiar with and accepting of behaviors exhibited by some individuals with autism and special needs. 

There will no charge for the tickets to this performance, however we do ask you to reserve your tickets either online or email at There is no reserved seating you may choose any seats that make you most comfortable. There is an aisle to accommodate wheelchairs.

 While our production will be performed as written, adjustments have been made to alleviate any overly loud sounds, jarring noises and intense lighting. Additional resources such as: a character and plot synopsis; FAQs; a Social Story, and a Video are provided on this website to help you decide if this show is appropriate for your family.

ArtsNashoba will be providing an array of services such as a "Quiet Room", fidgets, and specially trained staff to help you, your family and friends have a comfortable and supportive experience at our theater - the full list of services is provided below in the FAQs.


Q: Are A-F performances only for those with autism or other sensory issues, or can anyone attend?
A: Autism/Special Needs-Friendly Performances are intended primarily for families/schools with members on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory issues. In addition to altering the theater environment to cater to those with sensory issues, a main goal of this program is to provide a safe, judgment-free, comfortable experience for the entire audience. We achieve this by recommending this performance for those families bringing loved ones who have a developmental disability, and their advocates who are familiar with and accepting of behaviors exhibited by those with autism.

Very young children also have challenges sitting for long periods, remaining quiet and can be sensitive to some sounds. We welcome families with toddlers to join us at these performances as well.

Q: What accommodations will there be? How is it different from other performances?

A: The Autism-Friendly accommodations are:

  • Lights remain on, but dimmed inside the theater 

  • Comfortable volume and consistent sound levels, elimination of loud sound effects.

  • Audience members are free to talk and leave their seat under parental/caregiver supervision - if you feel it is making an impact on others' experience in the theater, we encourage you to come and go as needed.

  • A Quiet room will be made available

QUIET/CHILL ROOM is located down the hall from the theater, it is provided for those audience members who become overstimulated and need a place to relax (hopefully returning to the show later). Mats, chairs and tables will be provided, as well as a variety of coloring activities, sticker books and fidgets. This area will be staffed by our Therapist, other trained adults and an EMS person from the Groton Fire Dept.

Q: Will there be an Intermission?

A:  The performance lasts about 90 minutes. Roughly half way through the show there will be an intermission. In the Conant Art Gallery there will be beverages and snacks. Bathrooms are nearby and will be clearly marked.

No Food or drink is allowed in the theater -  only the Conant Art Gallery.

Q: Will the show on stage be any different from other performances that are not Autism/Special Needs-Friendly?
A: Content is not altered for these performances. Sensory-effects, however, will be slightly altered. Amplified audio levels are made to be more comfortable and consistent without abrupt spikes in volume or jarring sound effects. And lights remain on, but dimmed inside the theater. All audience members will have an opportunity to meet the cast members at the conclusion of the performance in the Conant Art Gallery.

Q: Will it be noisy during the show?
A: It's very possible - expect there to be more than the usual ambient sounds from the audience.

Q: How can I prepare my audience member for this outing in the theater?
A: We have posted a Social Story and a video to help your family/school become familiar with the exterior and interior of the Lawrence Academy theater complex. There is also: a character and plot synopsis

Q: My attendee uses a wheelchair - What is the best access to the theater?
A: The main entrance to the Conant Art Gallery &Theater is handicapped accessible. There is a small circular driveway in front of the entrance with ramps in the sidewalk.  Pull right up to the sidewalk for unloading/drop-off at the main doors of our theater building. Although the main parking area is a few steps below this level, if you are driving a handicapped vehicle there is a handicapped parking lot next to this circular driveway.

Q: Are service animals welcome?
A: We do accommodate service animals.

Q: I have a question not addressed here. Who may I speak with at ArtsNashoba to get more information on the Autism/Special Needs-Friendly services and accommodations?

A: You may contact the ArtsNashoba President and A-F Coordinator, Bonnie Marchesani either by email, or by calling 978-448-5335

Special thanks to the Local Massachusetts Arts Councils of Ayer, Acton/Boxborough, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley and Townsend who have made these performances possible!

ArtsNashoba Show Social Story

I am going to Lawrence Academy to watch a musical where actors perform and sing on a stage. The show is about an hour and a half long with a 15-minute intermission (everyone takes a break) in the middle. I will be in the audience. The audience of about 100 people will watch, listen, and clap.

When I arrive at Lawrence Academy, I will follow these steps in this order:

1. Go to the check-in desk and get a ticket for the show.
2. Walk through the door into the theater.  
3. Find an open seat that I will be comfortable sitting in.

During the performance, I will:
1. Be quiet and listen to the actors speaking and singing.
2. Watch the actors on stage. From the 2013 production of "Beauty and the Beast Jr."
3. Clap when a song in finished. But, if I don’t feel like clapping, I don’t have to.

If I need to take a break during the musical, I will:

  1. Tell an adult that I need a break.

  2. Go with the adult to the quiet room near the theater.

  3. Use fidgets, color, draw, drink water, and/or relax.

  4. Tell the adult when I am done with my break.

  5. Return to the theater quietly. 

Plot and Character Synopsis

Disney’s Aladdin, Jr.  

Welcome to Agrabah, City of Enchantment where the narrators enter to set the scene ("Arabian Nights").

At the palace gates, townspeople eagerly await the arrival of the royal family – for, at long last, today is the day they will learn who Princess Jasmine's future husband will be! We will catch a glimpse of our hero, Aladdin, as well as the greedy Grand Vizier, Jafar, and his conniving parrot, Iago.

Ah! Here comes the royal family! Much to the crowd’s delight, the Sultan begins to parade three prospective princes for his daughter, Jasmine. Jasmine tells her father that she doesn't want to marry any of these men. She wants to be the one deciding whom she marries and when. The Sultan reminds her that the "law is the law," and the law says she must marry a prince... by tomorrow.

Just then, we hear the police calling, "Thief! Thief!" A loaf of bread has been stolen! Jasmine, wishing to run away, recognizes this opportunity and escapes into the chaos. At the same time, Aladdin, our bread thief, enters to avoid capture ("One Jump Ahead").

The Sultan realizes Jasmine is missing and orders a search. Jasmine, concealing her identity beneath a cape, runs into Aladdin. They decide to escape together to the marketplace.

Suddenly, the guards enter to arrest Aladdin. But as they drag him away, the Princess reveals her identity and orders them to alow Aladdin to go free. Razoul, the Captain of the Royal Guard, says that he is only following Jafar's orders, and that the Princess will have to take it up with Jafar. Until that happens, Aladdin will remain under arrest!

The narrators bring us to Jafar's chamber where he sits hunched over a desk, scratching away at an old document with a quill pen ("Arabian Nights – Reprise 1"). Jafar reveals to Iago that he has sneakily added a new paragraph to an ancient decree. The decree now states that Princess Jasmine must marry him if she is unable to choose a husband within the allotted time! And, furthermore, that he will inherit all the rights, privileges and powers of the Sultan! He and Iago must make sure she doesn't choose a groom before tomorrow ("Why Me?").

Meanwhile, because the dungeons are full, the guards drag Aladdin to the outskirts of Agrabah, and throw him in a cave filled with piles of cast-off junk ("Arabian Nights – Reprise 2"). Aladdin begins to despair, all the while pining over Jasmine. Just then, a small lamp catches Aladdin's eye. Trying to make out the writing on it, Aladdin rubs the lamp, and –to his surprise – a Genie appears ("Friend Like Me"). The Genie offers Aladdin the standard "three wish" package. Hoping to win Jasmine's affections, Aladdin wishes to be a prince. With a wave of his hands, the Genie grants this wish, transforming Aladdin into Prince Ali!

At the palace, Jasmine pleads with her father to release Aladdin. The Sultan chastises her for running away, and reminds her that she is a princess... a princess who must be wed tomorrow!

A parade of dancers, harem girls and attendants enter to announce the arrival of Prince Ali ("Prince Ali"). Aladdin, as Prince Ali, tells the Sultan that he has journeyed far to seek Jasmine's hand. Overjoyed at this prospect, the Sultan proclaims that he has finally found his son-in-law! The thought of a forced marriage still angers Jasmine, and she storms out.

Nervously, Razoul informs Jafar that Aladdin escaped from the cave, where we now learn Jafar has stored all of his stolen treasures! Furious, Jafar realizes that Aladdin must have found the magic lamp, and could now be disguising himself as anyone – even Prince Ali!

Unaware of Jafar's discovery, Aladdin decides to make another attempt at winning Jasmine's heart. He travels to Jasmine's terrace, where she is yearning for her poor, lost Aladdin. Still playing the part of Prince Ali, Aladdin persuades the princess to join him on a magic carpet ride ("A Whole New World").

Jasmine leaves to tell her father there is going to be a wedding after all – she and Prince Ali are going to be married! Suddenly, Jafar and his guards rush in to capture our hero. Aladdin wishes for them to stop, and the Genie comes through again, freezing the guards in their tracks. Aladdin and the Genie escape, but accidentally forget to bring the lamp with them. Iago finds the magic lamp, and presents it to his master, Jafar ("Why Me? – Reprise").

In the throne room, the wedding is in progress. Aladdin is about to admit to the Princess that he is not a Prince, when Jafar beats him to it, exposing Aladdin as a fake ("Prince Ali – Reprise").

Now that the truth is revealed, the wedding cannot continue. Jafar reads aloud from the ancient scroll he so cleverly doctored, and proclaims that now he must become Jasmine's husband, and – most importantly – the next sultan! Jasmine and the Sultan try to stop Jafar, but to no avail, for Jafar now holds the power of the lamp. Jafar summons the Genie, wishing to be the most powerful genie in the world! Seizing his chance, the Genie grants Jafar’s wish, forever sealing Jafar in a tiny lamp.

The Genie then reminds Aladdin that he still has one wish left. Rather than wish to be a prince again, Aladdin wishes to set his friend, the Genie, free. Aladdin apologizes to Jasmine for lying, but she says it was the law that wasn't fair. She asks her father again for his consent, and he grants it! Aladdin and Jasmine can now be married, and live happily ever after ("A Whole New World – Reprise").

There is much rejoicing in Agrabah as the curtain falls ("Friend Like Me – Reprise").


P.O. Box 716, Groton, MA  01450-9998
ArtsNashoba is a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

ArtsNashoba is supported in part by grants from local agencies of the towns of Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley & Townsend, all supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.