Wicked — at the Gershwin — to Become Most Accessible Show

News   Wicked — at the Gershwin — to Become Most Accessible Show Come late February, the Gershwin Theatre — the current home of the hit musical Wicked — will be the most accessible venue in the world.

The theatre already offers "ShowTrans" and "I-Caption," and in late February it will introduce "Audio Description for the Blind," making it the only theatre in the world to offer all three systems.

"ShowTrans" offers an automated multilingual descriptive commentary of the production the theatregoer is viewing. The system gives continual plot and dialogue information, which enables patrons to follow the "action, intention, humor and emotion of the show." Wicked currently offers commentaries in Japanese, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

"I-Caption" is a hand-held captioning device for the deaf or hearing-impaired theatregoer. "I-Caption" displays verbatim text of the entire show, including dialogue and lyrics as well as announcements and show information. It is designed to be visible to the user but not distracting to those in surrounding seats.

The newest addition to the Gershwin Theatre, "Audio Description for the Blind," will be implemented in late February. The new service offers blind or sight-impaired theatregoers a "detailed description of all the visual aspects of the production, including choreography, lighting, sets and costumes." The device is timed perfectly to the musical's cueing system.

These three tools, developed by Richard Fitzgerald of Sound Associates, Inc., were partly funded by the National Institute for Special Need Audiences. With a score by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, Wicked began previews on Broadway Oct. 8, 2003, with an official opening Oct. 30, 2003. The company currently includes Shoshana Bean as Elphaba, Jennifer Laura Thompson as Glinda, George Hearn as The Wizard, Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible, David Ayers as Fiyero, Michelle Federer as Nessarose, Jeffrey Kuhn as Boq and William Youmans as Doctor Dillamand.

Directed by Joe Mantello, Wicked features choreography by Wayne Cilento and plays the Gershwin, 222 West 51st Street. Tickets are available by calling (212) 307-4100 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.

Carole Shelley in <i>Wicked</i>
Carole Shelley in Wicked Photo by Joan Marcus