As we alerted fans Friday, Punchdrunk and EMURSIV’s production of Sleep No More had a re-re-remix show for April Fool’s Day. What’s a “remixed” version of Macbeth look like? We talked to producers, cast members, and fans to find out.
Sleep No More, for the 1% of New Yorkers who haven’t seen it yet, is an immerse, interactive experience through five floors of the McKittrick Hotel. It can be very spooky, and also very confusing. No one talks, and everyone except the actors wear masks.
For April Fool’s Day, tickets went on sale and immediately crashed the website’s server. (Even with the fact that only returning members–people who had already seen the show–were invited to the performance.)
“We didn’t want someone to come in and have this be their first experience of seeing the show,” said EMURSIV producer, Jonathan Hochwald. “It was for multiple attendees, fans who have been many, many times.”
The point behind only inviting repeat customers was to avoid even more confusion in a show that already resembles a Choose Your Own Adventure. For the “remix,” both the audience and the cast were surprised when half way through the show, the music changed from the dark and brooding Gothic score to 80s pop music. Carrie Leonard, a fan of the show who was lucky enough to score tickets, gave The Observer a run-down via email:
Instead of the regular period songs or ominous soundtrack, songs by Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston played. The performers were just as surprised as the audience and that’s what made the show so fun. Sometimes performers improvised, sometimes they struggled to hold it together and not laugh. It made the show lighter, but the story still came through. My favorite part was when I realized the cast was switching characters right in front of us. I saw one Macbeth disappear behind a bar and a different Macbeth actor came up in his place. It was completely unexpected.
Connor Doyle, the show’s assistant choreographer and one of the cast members, recounted the experience:
There was something really great about just dancing to this music and having it not be cheesy. The Macbeth and Lady Mabeth duet was played to ‘Time of My Life,’ which started out very romantic but gets very violent. The most nerve-wracking part for me was the scene where I lip-sync to a Peggy Lee song…except they changed it up to ‘Diamonds Are Forever.’ A stagehand had to come out and give an audience member these pieces of cardboard with the words on it so I could sing along.
The medley, said Mr. Hochwald, was created by Sleep No More‘s lead composer/sound designer Stephen Dobbie. “The scenes are usually strictly choreographed, so the actors had no idea what would happen next,” Mr. Hochwald said. “Though the whole show involves preforming in a changing environment.”
Mr. Hochwald said that although the April Fool’s Remix gave the show a lightheartedness it otherwise lacked, it was still a serious endeavor. This was confirmed by Ms. Leonard: “November Rain played during a pivotal scene and both the scene and the song have been haunting me all day. That’s what Sleep No More does to you. It haunts you. Even when its Remixed.”
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