Jacksonville News

Photo by Member Mark Krancer, Kram Kran Photo

Photo by Member Mark Krancer, Kram Kran Photo


Date ArticleType
3/25/2024 4:00:00 AM Member News


Jacksonville, FL (March 26, 2024) –– In honor of Autism Awareness Month in April, the Florida Theatre and Duval County Public Schools are partnering to present three, free, private sensory-friendly Theatreworks shows for Team Duval students on the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) spectrum in April 2024 at the historic Florida Theatre in downtown Jacksonville.  Many thanks to The Magnolia Foundation and CSX; and encore sponsors Hope Haven, Dr. Gasper & Irene Lazzara, and Cecil Powell & Associates for making these events possible.


What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?  Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 36 children in the United States today.


What makes these shows sensory-friendly?  Typically, the lights are lower and the sound is down so as not to trigger any sensory issues.  In addition, calming spaces are provided if sensory breaks are needed.


“We are proud to partner with Duval County Public Schools to present these free, private sensory-friendly Theatreworks shows for their students on the ASD spectrum,” said Numa Saisselin, President of the Florida Theatre.  “This is the first time Theatreworks has designated something like this for this audience.  1,300 children will get to participate thanks to Jamie Kent who runs our Theatreworks program and Dana Allen with Duval County Public Schools.” 


“I’ve always wanted to do a sensory-friendly show for ASD children.  So, we approached Dana Allen who runs the Duval County Public Schools Instructional Program Support for Communication Skills Program, and set up a meeting.  We figured out how many shows we would need to seat everyone.  After choosing the shows, we put together a budget and Michelle Adams in Development raised the money,” said Jaime Kent with Theatreworks.  


“Shows like these are a great way for children with ASD to get out into the community and experience/practice/generalize their skills by riding the bus and seeing a performance.  These opportunities are really beneficial to them.  We are so grateful to the Florida Theatre and the sponsors who made this all possible,” said Dana Allen with Duval County Public Schools. 


The “Super Me Anti-Bullying” show is near and dear to Tour Manager Sean Driscoll’s heart.  “For most of my formative years, I fell prey to bullies and witnessed bullying.  This was a time when literally nothing was done to prevent it or help victims who suffered from it.  Creating and performing this show gives me a means to help others become empowered giving them the skills to fight against bullying.  By helping others, I find comfort and a sense of well-being.”  Sean is the Artist/Performer in all three ASD shows. 


Diggery Diggers Dino Show – sponsored by CSX

At the Florida Theatre

Date & Time – April 22, 2024 @ 10:30 a.m.


This is a private sensory-friendly show for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in grades PK-2.  While Paleontologist Diggery Diggers is showing his dinosaur fossils to a live audience, he discovers a “top secret” box the museum accidentally packed.  Curious, Diggery opens the box and unleashes the DinoSauroScope 3000 or DINA taking the audience back in time to interact with dinosaurs.  All is well until they use DINA on a large dinosaur egg.  The egg hatches and a terrible thing happens.  The dinosaurs in museums around the world start to come alive!


Aliens Alive – sponsored by The Magnolia Foundation

At the Florida Theatre

Date & Time – April 23, 2024 @ 10:30 a.m.


This is (the second of three) private sensory-friendly shows for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in grades 3-5.  While reporting live, The Story Ship’s science reporter, Sarah, is kidnapped by aliens and trapped on a spaceship bound for the outer regions of our solar system!  Audience volunteers must quickly form a Rescue Team and use magic, dance, and music to get her back.  The audience helps to unravel a celestial musical message.  This show is highly interactive, with audience participation every minute to two minutes, with kids helping with magic tricks, singing, dancing, and navigating the rescue rocket through an interactive game.


Super Me Anti-Bullying Show – sponsored by The Magnolia Foundation

At the Florida Theatre

Date & Time – April 30, 2024 @ 11:00 a.m.


This is (the third of three) private sensory-friendly shows for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in grades 5-8.  This is the only show at 11:00.  “Super Me” is a fast-paced theatrical adventure that combines high-energy, hip-hop dance, intense video gaming, astounding magic, interactive animation, and a live actor.  Audience members are taken on a virtual journey into a comic book world to help a young boy escape from bullies.  The audience must help the animated boy overcome obstacles and solve puzzles using superpowers onstage.  Kids not only see real-life examples of bullying but are given clear, step-by-step actions to help stop bullying.




About the Florida Theatre

There is something for everyone at the Florida Theatre.  From pop, jazz, rock, comedy, country, and blues to ballet, the historic Florida Theatre annually offers over 150 cultural and entertainment events for every taste and age.  For tickets or to learn more about our educational performances for schools, rentals, membership, or the nonprofit corporation that manages this majestic place, please visit us at www.floridatheatre.com.


About Duval County Public Schools

Duval County Public Schools educates more than 129,000 students in the beautiful and fast-growing community of Jacksonville, Florida.  Team Duval educators work together every day to fulfill this vision:  That every student is inspired and prepared for success in college or a career, and life.  To learn more, visit https://dcps.duvalschools.org/.