This holiday season, for the first time, a special performance of WGBH’s A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan will be curated especially for individuals with sensory-input disorders, autism-spectrum disorder or anxiety and anyone else who may benefit.

“We want to create a safe and enveloping environment for people to do whatever they want to do. Move around, get up, walk around,” says O’Donovan, who has hosted the festive show in Boston for 16 years.

Other than making it a shorter presentation (one hour), the show itself doesn’t need to be changed, he says. Instead, it's all about how the audience experiences the show.

For this special show, says O’Donovan, “the key adjustments are not made so much on stage. It’s all about happens in the audience and how the audience is made to feel welcomed, safe and included.”

Various props like instruments and dancing shoes will be available to families and kids before the show so they know what to expect.

“We try to eliminate any big surprises.”

Other adaptations: the lights will never go fully dark, overall sound levels will be lowered and not all of the seats will be used, allowing for a more relaxed and intimate setting—but one that allows people to move around freely.

O’Donovan can envision the audience expanding in the future, perhaps to include people bringing a parent who has dementia or other disorders.

“When one family member has a disability, the whole family often misses out on the magic of theater.”

Multiple departments at WGBH are involved with this effort, including the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), which specializes in making media accessible for people with disabilities, and the marketing, digital and communications teams—all assisted by a consultant brought in by the Cutler Majestic, where the show is performed.

For O’Donovan, the show’s alignment with WGBH's mission is paramount.

“Success for the show is not based on ticket sales. The excitement is in designing something that will be accessible for people who are feeling otherwise excluded.”

Learn more about the sensory-friendly show on Friday, December 20 from 3-4PM and buy tickets here.