Playtime: Sensory-friendly shows coming soon nearby

Over the holiday break, we did a lot more going-places-and-seeing-things than we normally do. In our family, we have some small managing of these events to do above and beyond the regular, “Do we have snacks and back-up pants? Our requirements, while mostly necessary, are easy enough to meet with some planning ahead, this just isn’t the case for all families. What is so great about recent strides in awareness for all levels of need is that more and more options are becoming available.

I was happy to hear from Gillian Jones, Director of Programming at Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA), about their “relaxed” Saturday Matinee. On Jan. 28, at 10 a.m., ECA is screening “Show Boat” (1951) as part of their Dementia-Inclusive series. Gillian told me that these kinds of screenings work great for kids and families, and also older adults. The screening is open to the general public of all ages and “audience members will be made aware that some patrons may talk or get up during the film.” As another helpful feature, the “theatre house lights are left on low so the audience can see and move around if necessary.”

The movie will feature a live opening act by dancers from Barclay Shelton Dance Centre. We have been to the ECA for a movie with an opening act — it was during their anniversary celebration this past summer — and it was a hit for both me and both kids. There was no expectation for silence at this screening either and I will say, it was quite the weight off. I could reach in my purse for a fidget without that awful feeling of being the only noise in the room. If you’d like to attend the screening of “Show Boat,” or ECA’s next “relaxed” screening in April of Snow White (1916), you can contact the ECA for tickets at, by phone at 425-275-9595, or by checking out the Show Boat Facebook event here. Tickets are $10/$2 Arts for Everyone for low-income families and older adults.

The terms “sensory friendly” and “relaxed” had been top of mind as I recently got an email from The Seattle Symphony regarding two shows at their Soundbridge Discovery Center, connected to Benaroya Hall. (I stayed on their email list after a fun afternoon of classes there years ago.) On Feb. 4-5 they will have four “sensory friendly” options to see the Two Cats concert. This 35- minute show is “guided one-on-one by friendly concert buddies, children with autism and sensory sensitivities will experience the warm joy of this concert together with their families.” For tickets and show times you can visit

I figured there had to be more local options and did a quick search of the term “sensory friendly Seattle” (I did “sensory friendly Edmonds” too, and the ECA event was the first result). The search brought back another couple of options. The Seattle Children’s Theater and some semi-local movie theaters have sensory-friendly showings.

The Children’s Theater makes some pretty great accommodations. On top of the lower lights and decreased capacity, the theater allows for tours ahead of time and prompt sheets for families to know what to expect, and allows cancellations the same day if needed. For dates and times of “sensory friendly” performances and to buy tickets, click here. Many theaters offer special screenings and the closest one to us is the AMC in Woodinville, with twice-monthly offerings for children. The Regal Theater in Redmond has one sensory-friendly date a month.

– By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ”just eat the mac n cheese” @jen_marx.

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