Elf the Musical Autism-Friendly Reviews

Eight of our Performing Arts Ambassadors volunteered at the Elf The Musical Autism-Friendly performance and then reviewed the show.

Estelle Mangum's Review

Elf was and is my favorite christmas movie. When the twelve days of christmas special starts on the ABC network, I always watch it. It was such a great experience to see it live and in person at the DPAC. It was an even greater experience to be a part of the Autism-Friendly version of the performance. I had the opportunity of volunteering before the show. It was amazing and inspiring to see all the bright smiles and diversity that passed through the doors. My fellow ambassadors and I passed out these awesome sensory-friendly packets that UNC provided. The sensory friendly packets included a stress ball, a fidget spinner, and a bendy stick. My favorite moment of that day was when the little kids got their packets and were super excited that they had gotten fidget spinners!!

It was super special how the DPAC made adjustments to the show so that everyone could come and enjoy it. They adjusted the sound, lights and special effects of the show. They also extended the time of the intermission, provided noise-canceling headphones, and had activity-spaces throughout the DPAC. The reason is this could be disturbing to the audience.

It was wonderful to see how the DPAC catered and provided a show for the autistic community. Hopefully other places will take inspiration from DPAC and start having more Autism-Friendly shows.

Another awesome thing about being an ambassador is that we all got these awesome Elf t-shirts, which also had an autism awareness logo on the back to spread even more awareness.

Cylie Cabrera's Review

Yesterday (12/8) I had the amazing opportunity to work at the Autism-Friendly Performance of Elf the Musical at DPAC! This has been a highlight to my holiday season already. Before the show, I was outside welcoming guests and passing out special bags donated by UNC Health Care filled with special fidgets (sensory toys) for each audience member to use during the show. While I was outside, I couldn’t help but notice how excited everyone was to see the show. Little kids were over the moon while walking down the red carpet into the building. Even the grandparents, who were coming, seemed so joyous! 

The DPAC has done some amazing things with this event! Not only do kids and adults with autism get to see this wonderful show, there are many accommodations so that everyone is comfortable. In the lobbies, there were quiet areas and play areas for audience members to use during the show if needed. Even the show itself was altered to make sure that every audience member was comfortable and could enjoy the show. 

Elf the Musical is an amazing show that plucks on your heart strings while you watch it! The cast was amazing and the music added so much more to the story of Buddy the Elf that most of us already know and love. Not only was the show heartwarming, but it was also hilarious! From the elves to the iconic jokes, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face the entire time! I want to thank the DPAC once more for this opportunity and kudos to them for organizing this touching event!


Maddie Brigman's Review

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be a volunteer for the autism-friendly showing of Elf: The Musical at DPAC. I was taken aback by the amount of love, kindness, and inclusiveness shown, both by DPAC and the audience members. Before the show, I volunteered outside, passing out sensory packets with bendy sticks, fidget spinners, and stress balls to anyone that needed them. I loved more than anything to see kids’ faces light up when they saw what was inside, my heart was so full. It was probably 25º, and I definitely should've worn a bigger coat, but while I was giving out those packets, I somehow wasn't all that cold. 

Then, I went inside and saw the show. From the opening scene, kids and adults alike were enthralled. Every time a song started, the faces around me would light up. Every time a light changed, there was an audible sound of joy. Not only was I enjoying this beautiful musical for what it was on stage, I was enjoying it for the response it gave the audience.

Even before this experience, Elf was my favorite holiday movie: it has the perfect mix of humor, joy, and nostalgia for me. Now, my love for Elf has been reborn–the joy that it brought every family in that theatre, the joy it brought to families that might not be able to see live performances often–was irreplaceable. Thank you so much, DPAC, for this wonderful opportunity you brought to so many people. Thank you for letting me be a part of it, I’m forever grateful.

Veronica Gilligan's Review

 I can honestly say that volunteering at DPAC's autism -riendly performance of Elf the musical was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The ambassadors started the morning by learning about what a sensory-friendly performance entails, and it was so interesting! Basically, there are special areas where people can take a break if they get overwhelmed by the show, and the lights in the theatre are only dimmed rather than going all the way down. We then moved outside the theatre to pass out sensory packets, they're little bags filled with fidget spinners, stress balls, and bendy sticks, and that's where the experience became really special. It was so awesome to get to interact with the families going to see the show, they were all so excited to see Elf and so happy to receive the sensory packets. 

   After that it was time to see the show! It was a super cool experience to see the sensory-friendly showing. The show really didn't feel any different, but what did feel different was the enthusiasm in the room. Throughout the show everyone was so vocal about their enjoyment, which is so different from the typical theatre experience. Not only was the experience itself awesome, but Elf was too! It was extremely funny and sweet. If you ever get a chance to see it, I highly recommend doing so. It was super enjoyable and a great way to get in the Christmas spirit! 

   Overall, my time at Elf was great! I am so glad I was given the opportunity to give people who may not always go to the theatre the chance to enjoy themselves at DPAC. If you or someone you love has autism, or if you're just looking for a unique theatre experience, I would strongly encourage you to go to DPAC's next sensory-friendly show!

Franklin Kennedy's Review

On Saturday, December 8, I had the pleasure of attending the autism-friendly performance of Elf the Musical at DPAC. The performance gave children and adults with autism the chance to attend a show that they wouldn’t normally be able to see.  To make the show less stimulating, DPAC reduced the sound of the show, cut all the strobe lights, kept the house lights 30% on, and had medically trained staff on site. In addition to this, UNC Health Care provided fidget kits for all of the guests of the performance.  

Personally, I have a cousin with a form of autism. He is one of the smartest and kindest people that I know. I find it incredibly inspiring that DPAC was able to give people similar to my cousin the opportunity to expose themselves to the arts.  Thank you, DPAC!

Katie MacDougall's Review

Elf the Musical hands down was fantastic. But the Austism-Friendly part of the show was by far the best thing part about it. Upon entering every guest was offered a sensory packet given to us by UNC Health Care that consisted of a stress ball, a fidget spinner, and a bendy stick. The kids loved it, and I loved seeing their faces break out into the biggest smiles upon receiving these kits. Elf the Musical did an amazing job performing with a mostly people with autism in the audience. They were professional on stage and delivered their lines perfectly. The Autism friendly part of the show was that the sound was lowered to 90 decibels, the theater lights weren't turned off all the way so the theater wasn't completely dark, and there was no flashing lights or anything like that. Overall, it was really cool to be a part of something so inclusive and joy-bringing as this was and I can’t wait for more!

Melody Wimberley's Review

Having the opportunity to volunteer at the Autism-Friendly performance of Elf The Musical was an absolutely incredible experience! The smiles on the guests' faces when they were handed a snesory kit full of fidgets and toys was priceless.  It's a surreal experience when you walk into a room and see a group of like-minded people, seeing a show specially crafted just for them.  It joins people together in a way that words can't describe. 

Some things in the show were changed to fit the needs of the audience. The lights in the house were dimmed instead of being turned all the way off.  The sound was capped at 90 decibels, and some of the flashing lights on the stage were turned off.  Volunteers lined the walls on each floor in case someone needed assistance, and there were quiet zones in the lobby, equipped with bean bag chairs, headphones, and more. 

DPAC has a heart for theatre but an even bigger heart for the community.  Being at this show was a life changing experience and one that I will never forget.  This musical is sure to be a holiday favorite and thoroughly enjoyed by the whole family.    

Happy Holidays! 

Saniya Futrell's Review

Elf The Musical was an amazing piece. Getting to be a part of this program is such a blessing. Seeing all the kids and parents happy put a smile on my face. The performance of Elf The Musical that I saw was very special however, because it was autism-friendly production. This brought so much joy to my heart as well as lots of respect for DPAC as a whole.

Though the show was amazing, the highlight of my day from beginning to end was the audience's spectacular reactions. As I watched the show I could hear the kids laughing and enjoying themselves. Seeing them happy made me happy. I love giving back to the community and helping others that may be in need. So far being an ambassador at DPAC opened my eyes to see how lucky I am to be 1 out of the 20 ambassadors to have a spot in this program. As I enter the doors at DPAC, I feel at home. We are a community. This is only my second show, and I can't wait for more to come.