FFD — Sensory-Friendly Performance of “Havana Hop” at PlayhouseSquare

Welcome back, everyone!  We hope that you had a wonderful holiday break!

I believe it is critically important to engage our children in the arts.  Whether it is painting, dance, theater, or music, the arts are an essential part of life.  Autistic children, in particular, benefit from the arts because it encourages self-confidence and provides opportunities for sensory input and stimulation.  It has also been known to help with focusing skills.

Unfortunately, some Autistic children are rarely able to attend live arts events due to sensory overstimulation.  As wonderful as it is to hear a concert or watch a recital, nothing compares to a live performance.  This special Family Fun Day features a live theater performance that is designed just for individuals with sensory issues.


 PlayhouseSquare – “Havana Hop” – a Sensory-Friendly Performance


PlayhouseSquare is the second-largest performing arts center in the nation, just behind the Great White Way (more commonly known as Broadway) in New York, NY.  The not-for-profit arts center is home to eight theaters and is still referred to as the “world’s largest theater renovation project”.  According to their website, more than 1 million people visit the center each year to partake in a variety of shows, concerts, and performances.

The Children’s Theater Series at PlayhouseSquare has been known for bringing in some fantastic shows for young children.  They are offered to the public and as field trip opportunities for schools.  For an additional cost, children’s workshops are presented along with each show to allow children to engage in a fun and educational way.

This year, the Community Engagement & Education Department at PlayhouseSquare is presenting their very first sensory-friendly performance.  This performance was designed specifically for those on the Autism spectrum, as well as for those with sensory or developmental differences.  The staff at PlayhouseSquare is going out of their way to make sure that these people can still experience a trip to a live theater performance, and in a judgment-free zone.

“Havana Hop” was chosen for this first sensory-friendly performance.  The show revolves a girl who has been invited to dance for the President and seeks her grandmother’s help in incorporating her own heritage into her routine.  The show is interactive and encourages the audience to get up and dance along.  In order to make the performance sensory-friendly, noise levels will be reduced and the lighting above the audience will be left on at a low level.  Guests of all ages are welcome to talk, get out of their seats and move about the theatre during the performance.  There will also be designated quiet areas throughout the space.

As a theatre graduate and an early childhood educator, I am truly excited for this performance.  I believe that this is a wonderful idea from PlayhouseSquare and I hope it leads to more sensory-friendly performances in the future!

For more information on this upcoming performance of “Havana Hop,” you can visit the PlayhouseSquare Center’s website at http://www.playhousesquare.org/events/detail/havana-hop-sensory-friendly-performance.




  • The sensory-friendly performance of “Havana Hop” will be presented on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 11 a.m.


  • Admission is $5 per person.
  • Please note that tickets must be purchased in advance. Also, tickets may only be ordered by mail or fax.  They cannot be ordered over the phone.
  • The ticket order form can be found online at http://playhousesquare.s3.amazonaws.com/doc/HavanaHop-Packet-public4.pdf. Please complete the form and return it to PlayhouseSquare by mail or by fax, at the attention of “Student Performances”.
  • Faxes will only be accepted if you are paying by credit card.
  • Parking passes are also available at the discounted rate of $8, if you buy one in advance.


  • “Havana Hop” is being presented at the Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square, which is located at 1501 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115.


  • As stated above, tickets cannot be ordered over the phone. However, if you have any questions, the staff of PlayhouseSquare would be happy to help you.  They can be reached at 216-640-8865.  You can also e-mail Marilyn Niksa at niksam@playhousesquare.org.


  • Even though this is listed as a “student performance”, the public is welcome and encouraged to attend!
  • In the interest of time, I would highly recommend faxing your ticket order form.
  • You can write down on the order form if you any of your guests will be using wheelchairs, beds, or walkers. You can also indicate if anyone in your party is hearing or visually impaired.  By noting these things, the staff of PlayhouseSquare will be better able to help you.
  • The performance is approximately 45 minutes long.
  • No children under the age of 2 are permitted at this performance since it is classified as a “student performance”.
  • The workshops for “Havana Hop” will be presented on January 17th and 18th at various times. Tickets are $5 for children, but there is no charge for parents or guardians.  More information on the workshops can be found at http://childrenstheater.playhousesquare.org/workshops.

Discussion Points

  • What is your heritage? Do you know where your family comes from?
  • How many styles of dance can you name? Is dancing always done individually?
  • What sort of dancing do you like to do?
  • What are the benefits of dancing? (Socializing, physical activity, expression, self-confidence, etc.)
  • How do you feel when you are dancing?
  • How would you feel if you met the President? What would you say to him?  What would you like to do with him?


What other ways have you introduced your children to the arts?



Photo Copyright: [Havana Hop]. Retrieved on January 5, 2015 from www.playhousesquare.org.

Photo Copyright: [Ohio Theatre]. Retrieved on January 5, 2015 from http://eventseeker.com.

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About the Author

Dave Hoffman