The Center’s First Touch Tour, a Success During Moulin Rouge! The Musical

July 9, 2024

During the spectacular run of Broadway’s Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Center (June 11-23), blind and low vision patrons had the unique opportunity to interact with the show’s props and costumes at a touch tour on June 13. Guided by the show’s cast and crew, this touch tour enabled patrons to create a clearer and vivid mental picture of what takes place on stage. Attendees felt textures, shapes and sizes of various items including glassware, top hats, canes, parasols and show-stopping costumes. Furthering their appreciation, guests engaged with the show’s cast and crew, discussing colors, materials, context and symbolism.

Some of the guests had never heard of or attended a touch tour before. Connor and Cheyenne enjoyed the experience and appreciated having this opportunity for blind and low vision community members. “We had a such a wonderful time at the touch tour!” Cheyenne said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to check out shows and the Fox Cities P.A.C. Thank you for hosting this event; everyone did a wonderful job everyone creating a welcoming space.” Inspired by their experience with the touch tour, Cheyenne and Connor were excited to purchase tickets to the show and check out more musicals to attend in the future.

Another community member who attended the tour, Denise, mentioned that her friends have attended touch tours before, and she was curious to see what the experience was like. Having been sighted before, Denise was thrilled to experience a show like she used to.

The canes were my favorite part of the touch tour! There are things pertinent to the show and story but since I can’t see that, I was nice to feel and hear it. Now I don’t have to work as hard to create the picture in my head… It’s nice to have something adapted so we can enjoy the performance like everyone else.
Denise - Moulin Rouge! The Musical touch tour attendee (Green Bay)

Denise had tickets to attend Moulin Rouge! The Musical in its second week to use access audio description on the GalaPro mobile app. Patrons using the audio description during the performance had various onstage elements described including costumes, lighting, set pieces, character movement and facial expressions. “I like it when the character’s body language and facial expressions are described,” Denise remarked. “That’s where a lot of the emotions and humor comes from.”

Also attending the touch tour was Andrea Miskow, an audio describer from Sound Associates Inc. in New York. Andrea is very familiar with touch tours as she holds them frequently for the Theater Development Fund and for an off-Broadway company in New York.

Accessible opportunities like touch tours are huge for patrons. We take so much for granted in this world. Experiencing something in a three-dimensional way is amazing. It’s incredibly helpful, and I’m so glad the show and the Fox Cities P.A.C. organized this touch tour.
Andrea Miskow - Sound Associates Inc. audio describer

Audio describing for the past 21 years, Andrea worked with the Center to bring audio description to patrons experiencing Moulin Rouge! The Musical in the second week. Andrea attends a show a handful of times to get a feel for it to determine the story’s essentials and what scaffolding she needs to build in the script to help someone understand it. “What I include in the script is specific to and changes with each show,” Andrea shared. In a show like Moulin Rouge! The Musical, there are numerous big elements including props, costumes, singing and dancing. Andrea considers which ones are important to the story, as well as facial expressions and body language of the characters to fit the world it takes place in. “The actors tell the story and audio description fills in underneath,” Andrea explained. “The audience’s focus should be on the story, not on the voice of the audio describer. It’s important to paint the words with a broad enough brush to allow room for interpretations as the show evolves or other actors step into the roles.”

In the audio description script, I described the parasols, canes and some of the costumes used in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Mentioning them will spark a memory for those who attended the Center’s touch tour. They’ll remember the fun facts they learned, enhancing their experience at the show.
Andrea Miskow - Sound Associates Inc. audio describer

Written by Philomena Dorobek, Brand Storyteller
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center