Sign language interpreters help deaf audience members enjoy 'Hamilton'

CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - Going to the theatre to see a show is something many of us take for granted.

You may not know this but there is a community of sign language interpreters that devote their time to making sure the deaf community can enjoy musical theatre, just as much as the hearing community.

“Hamilton” remains one of the hottest musicals on Broadway, selling out to packed houses since it opened in Chicago in 2016.

And if you see Hamilton in Chicago, you may also notice Dan Betzler and Loretta Freeman signing the show in the room where it happens: for the deaf and hard of hearing audience.

Dan and Loretta are among a group of interpreters who make sure the deaf can enjoy good theatre just like the rest of us.

Both have been interpreting Broadway shows for years, but when they got word that Hamilton was coming -- a hip hop musical with a lot of rapping -- they knew this one would be a challenge. A year before opening in Chicago, they prepared, memorizing the entire soundtrack and dialogue.

Dan and Loretta are a team signing the show with subtle facial and body movements, while at the same time never overshadowing the actors on stage.

Loretta and Dan are passionate about their roles. They feel music and theatre can bring the hearing and deaf communities together. Their goal is to make sure the audience relying on their interpretations can enjoy an enriching evening that will leave them with emotions and feelings everyone else at the theatre is also going home with.

The sign language interpreters only appear at specific shows. For more information on times and dates, go to broadwayinchicago.com.

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