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New app provides West End theatregoers with captions and audio description on mobile phones

The first show to use the app is Back to the Future

A stock photo of someone using their phone in the dark

A new app is dismantling the idea that using your phone at the theatre is to be frowned upon – it can actually help massively with accessibility.

GalaPro – available on both iOS and Android – already has widespread useage on Broadway, but has now made its way to the UK. The app was demoed with a production of School of Rock back in 2019, with it now being rolled out to LW Theatre's Adelphi Theatre – currently home to Back to the Future the Musical.

From right now, audiences can watch the show while watching the captions or listening to audio description on their devices. We tried it out earlier today and the results were impressive – users input unique show codes in order to access the captions and AD material, which they can then start at the same time as the performance.

The app functions in Airplane mode to avoid disruption, while displaying red or grey font on a black background to avoid bright lights. The Adelphi has said they have additional devices for those without.

GalaPro was acquired last year by Broadway's Shubert Organisation, one of the biggest venue operators in New York. It is being used for Hamilton, & Juliet, Wicked, Six and more on the Great White Way.

The use of tech to help accessibility has become more and more significant in recent years. Caption lenses have been utilised at London venues like the National, allowing audience members to watch the show while the words appear on the glasses they're wearing.

The app is not expected to disrupt the existing schedule of captioned, relaxed and audio-described performances already scheduled by the likes of Back to the Future.