By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A unique theater experience is happening in our region for kids with sensory sensitivities where the theater comes to them.

The show begins in the audience member’s driveway. Fabric, movement, sound and words all create imagery that help the child feel transported to the stars, especially inside this small trailer. It’s the set of a 13-minute long interactive show called “Starshine!” by Jumping Jack Theater.

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Co-founder and artistic director Stephen Santa says, “It almost feels revolutionary that we’re able to bring a theatrical experience right to a family’s house and they don’t have to worry about all the challenges and boundaries that come with going to a more traditional theater where even just getting to the theater could be a challenge for them.”

(Photo: KDKA)

That’s what mom Rosalia Wyrostek feels when she tries to go to a traditional theater performance with her 11-year-old daughter, Mercedes, who has Down Syndrome.

“Sometimes it’s very hard. It can be very loud and it’s a lot of people in the theater. It can be very hard for her and us and the people around us,” Wyrostek says.

But the show “Starshine!” comes right to each child’s house, is personalized for that child’s needs and is intimate and interactive.

Jumping Jack Theater collaborated with theater students at California University of Pennsylvania to build the set and write the script.

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“When the stars align together, we shine,” Mercedes repeats after the actor in the show prompts her.

Stephen Santa explains, “We’re trying to make (the audience member) understand that every person has shine within them, and it’s what makes them special and unique, just like every star.”

What’s amazing is that this whole show rolls up, hitched to the back of a car. But how is it financially feasible to put on a show for one family at a time?

”We certainly don’t make money from our performances,” Santa explains. “Everything we offer to our families is for free. We wanted to really break down those barriers that might have a cost factor so everything is financed through donations and from grants.”

Jumping Jack Theater always welcomes donations which go directly to providing shows for more families.

If you’d like the show to come to your child who has sensory sensitivities, go to their website and fill out the form to book the show. It’s completely free.

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You can visit Kidsburgh’s website here.

Kristine Sorensen