NBCF’s Girl Scouts Have a Cool Time at The Smith Center

The Smith Center is a leading performing arts centers in Las Vegas, providing enrichment in the local arts community that you can’t get anywhere else. For someone who’s blind or visually impaired, live theatrics can be a little tricky; audio description can be provided if previously recorded, but what about in real time? NBCF’s Girl Scout troop was fortunate enough to to attend The Smith Center’s sensory inclusive performance for Disney’s Frozen, including a touch tour. This touch tour allowed students to experience the visual aspects of the show in a tactile way.

“Most Broadway touring productions have education or engagement opportunities available in connection with the performance such as master classes for students, meet and greets for VIP guests, talkbacks, etc…” said Melanie Jupp, Director, Education and Outreach. “Disney’s Frozen mentioned they had a touch tour available for their performance.”

The touch tour, provided before the performance, allowed the students to touch objects from the show. This included unique items such as Elsa’s snow or Anna’s hair. This tactile inclusion allows for students who have little to no sight to get an idea of what these objects shapes and textures are like. They then had a live voice over provided by a narrator.

“The Smith Center did incredible with their adaptations. Some of our girls were nervous about how they were going to be able to enjoy the show, especially those with very limited vision,” said Megan, NBCF’s Family Advocate. “After the performance, they were so excited that they were able to enjoy the show just as their sighted friends did. The touch tour was incredible and allowed our girls to experience something that is unique to their group.”

Being able to experience a theatrical performance in an adapted environment changes everything for a young child with a visual impairment. It opens doors to new opportunities and expands their imagination. Everyone in attendance understood this importance as they saw the happiness it brought the girls who visited.

“It was an amazing feeling being able to watch the kids interact with the touch tour,” said Alyssa La Pierre, Assistant Program Manager of Education and Outreach. “One of my favorite moments was when the girls were able to feel both Anna and Elsa’s hair. I mentioned to one of the girls she was touching Young Anna’s hair but was quickly corrected by her friend that it was Older Anna’s hair because there was a blonde streak in it.”

Michelle Brown, Director of Sponsorships and Publications at Smith Center, shows two NBCF students different tactile props from the Frozen performance.

Even Megan was surprised by how well the live audio description went. To be able to describe something happening in the moment is a pretty hard thing to do – most audio descriptions are recorded well in advance.

“There are some strange moments in the show that I thought would be difficult to describe in an appropriate manner,” said Megan. “But the Smith Center’s team did an amazing job. The girls who used the audio description devices were giggling the entire time.”

Brian DeCaluwe, Associate Company Manager with FROZEN North American Tour Disney Theatrical Productions, talks with an NBCF student.

The Smith Center is committed to to accessibility and providing services for all performances, not just those that are sensory inclusive. Their team did an incredible job with their adaptations and accommodations for a visually impaired audience.

“The opportunity to have a touch tour in connection with Frozen helped us to understand this opportunity as something we might be able to offer more frequently in the future,” said Melanie. “These opportunities tend to depend on the show being prepared to offer something like a touch tour, but we can advocate for them to be created and can create these opportunities in connection with education-specific programming in the future.”

NBCF staff and students couldn’t agree more! Opportunities, like Frozen, are what we strives to provide our students. This performance showcased the importance of making theater accessible for everyone.

“The Smith Center went above and beyond for our Girl Scout troop,” said Megan. “Without the accommodations and assistance from The Smith Center, our girls may not have gotten the chance to experience live theater in a way that was meant for them.”

An NBCF staff member smiles as a student touches Elsa's wig.

If you’re interested in checking out The Smith Center’s upcoming performances, check out their schedule here. You can also see upcoming NBCF programs and events under our Programs tab.

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