Players from the Columbus Symphony will perform in ABC Player’s Sensory Friendly Holiday Concert

Posted on:

< < Back to

NELSONVILE, Ohio (WOUB) – Few experiences capture the essence of yuletide cheer like a holiday concert.

Picture it: the refined renditions of songs like White Christmas‘ and Sleigh Bells, the palpable anticipation of the impending holidays, and the chance to don something just a tad more festive than usual.

Regionally, anticipation is building for the annual Columbus Symphony: Holiday Pops Spectacular at Stuart’s Opera House on Saturday—a sold out event which promises to infuse the community with the joy of the season.

However, while holiday concerts are cherished by many, for a significant portion of the population, they can be a sensory minefield. The dark theater setting, overwhelming sounds, and unspoken social rules can create a daunting experience, particularly for those with sensory processing disorders and autism spectrum disorder—conditions that, according to the National Library of Medicine, may affect up to 16.5 percent of the U.S. population.

Acknowledging this, members of the Columbus Symphony are taking part in a distinctly different holiday concert earlier on Saturday. This unique production, organized by the ABC Players, has been carefully crafted to be inclusive and enjoyable for individuals facing sensory difficulties and those who support them.

Held in the welcoming Grand Lobby of Stuart’s Opera House, this free, 30-minute concert will still showcase talented musicians from the Columbus Symphony, just like the Holiday Pops Spectacular.

However, the lobby lights will remain on, attendees can choose between sitting on the ground or in chairs, and attendees are encouraged to respond to the entertainment however they wish.

A flyer advertising the Sensory Friendly Holiday Concert at Stuart's December 16.
This isn’t the first sensory friendly production the ABC players have put on. Just a few months ago, back in the spring, the group produced Animal Tales, an original production adapted to be accessible for those with sensory processing difficulties.

Animal Tales was directed by Celeste Parsons of the ABC Players. When Parsons heard that the Columbus Symphony was returning to the region for their annual holiday concert, she wondered if it might be possible to make a holiday concert accessible to this underserved population. As it turns out, it is.

She says that the program will feature two violins, a viola, and a cello playing a series of holiday numbers. Accompanying the music will be several ABC Players dressed up as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. Parsons says there will also be as “as many elves who can be spared from the toy making that’s going on right now.”

“Everybody deserves to experience theater,” Parsons said. “I’m just so tickled that it is working out that we can give the sensory sensitive people another kind of theatrical experience besides drama.”

The Sensory Friendly Holiday Concert happens Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the Grand Lobby of Stuart’s Opera House. The performance is free to attend, but requires registration at this link.