Russian Time Magazine

Sacramento area performing arts venues find new ways to take patrons with disabilities on the stage’s journey

Jackie Vanderbeck, who runs Broadway Sacramento’s Accessibility program, passes around items worn by the cast of "Pretty Woman" during a tactile pre-show presentation for theatergoers who are blind or visually impaired before a performance of the show in May. (Photo by Fred Greaves) Photo by Fred Greaves for Solving Sacramento.

Regina Brink remembers going with her family to her first musical, “Man of La Mancha,” when she was 10 years old. Her father asked special permission from the ushers to sit by Brink’s side and whisper descriptions to her of what was happening onstage, which really helped Brink, who has been blind since birth

“I found without him I couldn’t really keep up with the action on the stage or get the full story,” Brink says.

Brink continued going to the theater as an adult even when she found it frustrating. “Navigating the theater by myself can be challenging,” she says.

But then Brink discovered the accessibility and accommodation services offered by Broadway Sacramento, which includes both the touring shows at Broadway on Tour and the summer shows of Broadway At Music Circus. Under the program, theater patrons with visual, hearing or mobility impairments are offered various options to help them fully appreciate the shows. This is one way local performing arts venues and groups are working to make their art more accessible to all, though budget constraints limit what smaller venues and theaters can offer.