Mobile app translates Broadway shows for viewer

- Imagine watching a play or a musical in a language foreign to you. How would you grasp the storyline or understand the characters? Would you get frustrated or feel left out? Well, that feeling is what people who visit New York City from abroad can experience if there is a language barrier.

Now a mobile app called GalaPro aims to knock down that barrier.

"We create the content ahead of time and use voice recognition technology to sync everything during the live show," GalaPro's Yonat Burlin said. "And the user gets the content directly to their own device during the show, real time."

The app is $5. Users can follow a show word-for-word. GalaPro is linked into the soundboard, but as a backup uses programmed light cues to know where in the show they are. The app also offers descriptive audio for the visually impaired and have audio settings for those who are losing their hearing or are deaf.

All Broadway venues have been outfitted for the tech, according to Charlotte St. Martin, the president of the Broadway League, which represents commercial theater in New York and across the country. She said that many theatergoers come from other countries.

By offering greater access, the Broadway industry hopes to sell more tickets to the many foreign visitors coming to the city.

Cell phones, once the pariah of Broadway shows for their interruptions and bright screens, are back in. St. Martin said if a patron uses GalaPro or Closed Captioning, using a phone is OK. She said hopefully users will have the common sense to turn off the ringer.

(Because when it comes to cell phone etiquette, common sense has worked out so well thus far.)

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