Serving St. Charles and St. Peters, Missouri, the volunteer-operated Act Two Theatre (an A&E grant recipient) is presenting its 23rd season at the St. Peters City Hall Cultural Arts Centre. What sets this season apart from past years and many other local theater companies is Act Two’s commitment to make its shows accessible for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.

So far this season, Act Two has offered five Deaf Night at the Theatre performances, and a final performance of the year scheduled for November 5: a showing of NunCrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical.

The idea for the program was sparked when, in 2013, actress Jamie Chandler requested an ASL interpreter at the show so her younger sister, Jessica, who is Deaf, could enjoy her performance in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

“When I first brought it up to Act Two they were very open to it and really excited by the idea,” says Chandler, now in Los Angeles. “From the very first second I brought it up they were incredibly helpful and supportive every step of the way.”

Chandler had performed on stage many times, but her sister had never attended a show. “She always heard about what I do and what’s involved but she had never seen it in person. It was really neat to be able to share that with her, since it was such a big and important part of my life.”

“My fellow actors were really excited about it,” Chandler continues. “For most of them it was something that had never been done before at one of their performances.”

“It was my first time performing with [Act Two Theatre] and I was so grateful that it was never treated as something they had to do,” Chandler says. “I know that myself and my family and probably so many others out there are so grateful for people who treat [offering ASL interpretation] as a given and not as a burden.”

With that production, the Act Two Theatre board saw the importance of ASL interpretation in the community, and began searching for a way to offer interpreted performances regularly.

In 2015, Act Two Theatre committed to self-funding two years of interpreted shows, and kicked off the program in February of 2016 with an ASL interpreted performance of their season opener, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

The Deaf Night at the Theatre performances not only includes ASL interpreters on stage, but also interpreters at the box office, concessions and usher stations. The interpreters express the emotional context and tone of the performance in addition to the words spoken by the actors on stage.

To raise awareness and reach out the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community, tickets are ‘pay what you like.’ In addition to making performances accessible to a wider audience, Act Two strives to educate their hearing patrons about the Deaf experience and increase connections between communities.

Act Two Theatre is an A&E PNC Project Grant recipient. The final 2016 Deaf Night at the Theatre performance will be NunCrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical, November 5. To learn more, visit