DCMTA’s New Column ‘Synesthesia’: Kudos to WNO & The Kennedy Center for Captioning ‘Show Boat’ by Yvonne French

Show Boat at Nationals Park Featured Open Captioning

283337 (1)

M&M’S® Opera in the Outfield  presented a captioned simulcast of The Washington National Opera‘s critically acclaimed production of Show Boatto entertain theatre, opera, and baseball fans alike at Nationals Park this past Saturday.The live stream  from The Kennedy Center Opera House included captions for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The simulcast and the captions appeared together on the giant scoreboard. The audience was able to see it from any seat in the stadium, including the outfield.

“This is the first time that Washington National Opera was fully accessible through the use of captioning for people who experience hearing loss, like a lot of our older patrons do. The captioning was right up there on the display and not on some ancillary machine, disconnected from the performance,” exclaimed Betty Siegel, Director of VSA and accessibility at The Kennedy Center (VSA is an international organization on arts and disability).

Premiering in 1927, Show Boat is generally regarded as the first giant of the American musical theatre. DCMetroTheaterArts gave it a five-star review, and other local critics also raved about the production.

'Opera in the Outfield.' Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.
‘Opera in the Outfield.’ Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Kudos to WNO and The Kennedy Center for providing every word and lyric for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and for people who like to sing along with the popular Jerome Kern score.

Said Lise Hamlin, “I attended Show Boat and watched the captions. In fact, I have a significant hearing loss and would not have been likely to attend, or enjoyed it nearly as much if I did attend, without the captions. Several other people in my party also have hearing loss and all told me they really enjoyed the simulcast. The show was terrific, the captioning wonderful.” Ms. Hamlin is Director of Public Policy at the Hearing Loss Association of America.

The cast of 'Show Boat.' Photo by Scott Suchman.
The cast of ‘Show Boat.’ Photo by Scott Suchman.

According to Michael Solomon of Washington National Opera, “The legendary songs of Show Boat – like “Ol’ Man River,” “You Are Love,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” “Bill,” and many more – were performed the way the composer intended, with a full orchestra and robust chorus, in this production created by Washington National Opera Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, and conducted by John DeMain.”


This is the first article in Yvonne French’s new column called Synesthesia, where you will find interviews, previews, and reviews of performances by, for, and about  people who are disabled. How do we experience art? It could be through synesthesia – a sensation in one part of the body produced by a stimulus applied to another part. In language, we might describe a ”loud shirt” or a “bright sound.” There are other dictionary definitions of synesthesia, but my favorite is “an agreement of the feelings or emotions of different individuals.”

Running Time: Two hours and 50 minutes.

M&M’S® “Opera in the Outfield” played May 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Nationals Park -1500 South Capitol Street, SE, in Washington DC. Show Boat plays through May 26, 2013 at The Kennedy Center’s Opera House – 2700 F St. NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 467- 4600, or purchase them online.

DC Area’s Alyson Cambridge on Playing Julie in Show Boat and Her Career by Joel Markowitz.

Aaron Reeder on Appearing in Showboat in Chicago and in DC at Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center by Joel Markowitz.

Jessica Vaughan’s review of Show Boat on DCMetroTheaterArts.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here