Sensory-Friendly Performances

Up next, PBT is thrilled to present a new sensory-friendly story ballet:  Peter Pan at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 18, 2016 at the Benedum Center. 

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is proud to offer sensory-friendly performances for people from all over the western Pennsylvania region and beyond! As part of its 2015-2016 Season, PBT will debut a sensory-friendly performance of Peter Pan at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, at the Benedum Center. This high-flying family favorite will mark PBT's third sensory-friendly story ballet following The Nutcracker (2013 and 2014) and Beauty and the Beast (2015). PBT began presenting sensory-friendly programming in December 2013, when it became the first professional ballet company in the country to present a sensory-friendly performance of The Nutcracker. Buy tickets now



Where are these performances presented? 

Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown Pittsburgh


What makes a performance "sensory-friendly?"

A sensory-friendly performance has been specially designed to serve patrons with sensory sensitivities and other special needs. We are making the entire experience sensory-friendly in three primary ways:

  • Production
  • Front of House
  • Staff, Dancer and Volunteer Training

The production will be, for the most part, what you would see if you were to attend any other performance. First and foremost, PBT wants the production to retain its artistic integrity and impact on the audience. Some things will be different, however, such as: 

  • lowering sound and light levels so there are no sudden changes
  • eliminating any potentially startling effects, such as the fire flares that signal Drosselmeyer's magic tricks in The Nutcracker
  • keeping the house lights at half throughout the performance

Front of house -- everything from the lobby to where you are sitting -- likely will be where audience members notice the biggest changes. Some adaptations will include:

  • relaxing of house rules--you are free to get up, move around, and leave whenever you need to
  • allowed use of Ipads and other electronics for therapeutic uses
  • volunteers scattered throughout the theater to assist and direct audience members as needed
  • quiet areas and activity areas in the lobby should your child need a break
  • fidget objects and ear plugs will be available

Everyone--PBT staff, dancers, ushers and volunteers--will be trained prior to the performance. PBT is working with many local autism and intellectual and developmental disability experts to make sure that everyone involved understands the spectrum of special needs that patrons may have and strategies for helping all patrons through this experience.


How long are the performances?

Peter Pan runs for approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, which includes one twenty-minute intermission. 


How can I prepare my child or myself for this experience?

PBT wants to ensure that all patrons attending a sensory-friendly performance feel comfortable knowing what to expect. Links to materials for each production can be found below and will be sent to all ticket holders approximately two weeks prior to the performance.

View some of our previous pre-visit guides to sensory-friendly performances at the Benedum Center:

Who can attend the performance?

PBT strives to create a safe space for families with special needs to come and be who they are during the sensory-friendly perfromances. However, we also realize that there may be other patrons who wish to avail themselves of the adaptations and accomodations that a sensory-friendly performance provides. This year, after careful consideration and discussion with our partners in the autism and IDD community, we have decided to open up ticket sales to the general public for these two performances. All ticket buyers will receive numerous communications from PBT that they have purchased tickets for a sensory-friendly performance and what that means. If a patron unintentionally purchases tickets for a sensory-friendly performance, they are urged to contact PBT Subscription Services. 


How can I purchase tickets?

Single ticket sales for the sensory-friendly performance open Aug. 24, online at or by calling 412-456-6666. Special discount codes will be distributed through PBT's partners within the autism and IDD communities. Group tickets - for 10 or more - offer substantial savings and are on sale now by calling 412-454-9101 or emailing For more information about tickets, please call 412-454-9107.


How much will tickets cost? 

Thanks to generous support from our community, including the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust, Ms. Carrie M. Stanny, and the Montague Family Foundation, we are able to offer these tickets at a heavily discounted rate for families with special needs. Patrons will have a range of ticket prices and seating options to choose from.

Other patrons are welcome to purchase tickets for the sensory-friendly performances at our regular ticket price.


Who is supporting these sensory-friendly performances?

As we all know, it takes a village! Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre gratefully thanks our generous sponsors for the 2014-15 sensory-friendly performances: The Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust, Ms. Carrie M. Stanny, the Montague Family Foundation and The Jack Buncher Foundation. PBT also thanks the Autism Connection of PA, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Theatre Development Fund, the Children's Institute, and many others for their partnership and support!


How can I help Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre with this endeavor?

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will be looking for qualified volunteers (i.e., special education teachers, therapists, etc.) to help on the days of the performances. Qualified volunteers can register today! Should you wish to make a donation to PBT to help support the sensory-friendly performances, please click here to donate, and thank you!