Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Secret Sessions - The Movie Experience

A couple of weeks back I received a curious e-mail titled MEDIA INVITE: Secret Immersive Movie Experience.  Intrigued by being a part of an actual event I responded positively stating that I would like to attend.  The location and subject matter of the film remained top secret until just before the November 8th event with the only hint being that the audience would be brought into the fold of a cult classic film.

The next e-mail a couple of days before included the details of my character. Guests were cast in the role of a 1970's newscaster. Time for adult make believe; Farrah hair for the ladies moustaches for the men.  Clothing from the era, wide bottom pants, loud shirts and wide collars were recommended. The instructions from The News Team ended with the phrase Stay Classy.

The last communication 24 hours out directed Reporters to appear tomorrow Camera Ready at 301 Adelaide Street West downtown Toronto at 7:00 PM sharp to cover an exciting news story. Reports were again reminded that the event was top secret and that were all: Kind of a Big Deal.

The date of the event turned out to be the same night as the U.S. Presidential election. It was a rainy evening but once inside the event space had the vibe of studio 54 on a good night. I met up with one of my fellow bloggers to mingle with attendees including members of the cast along with some other who appeared to be actors not in roles from the film but mixed in to stimulate and engage the invited guests. If you hadn't guessed from the hints Stay Classy and Kind of a Big Deal the evenings film was Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.  The main cast members were all represented by the Movie Experience Team; Ron Burgundy, Dan Fantana,Victoria Corningstone, Champ Kind and Brice Tamland. They mingled with the crowd posed for pictures and acted out a few scenes from the film as the guests settled in walking amongst the sharp set designed pieces the best of which was Dan Fantana's cologne cabinet including the infamous panther cologne "that contained real panther".  Each guest had the opportunity to play an active part reenacting the rumble scene with the Spanish News Team, Public News and fierce Channel 4 rivals Channel 2 news.

After some tasty catered food with a Tex Mex flare the lead actors Steve Hobbs playing Ron Burgundy and Mandy Roveda as Veronica Corningstone took to the newsroom set to deliver an early electoral tally while staying in character wondering who are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Next the film was projected to the guests with the cast members wondering out in front of the screen to perform some scenes in unison with the film. A spotlight appeared on the performers as they made their entrance creating an anticipation amongst the audience of the next live read. The live segments were very entertaining but the actors had to battle with the action on screen during their performance. Hopefully the production can fix this for future endeavors.

The cast emerged themselves in their rolls and made it a point to talk to all of the patrons often posing for pictures as the one displayed above. The set designers brought the participants right into the Channel 4 news room and to Tino's where Ron and Victoria went to end their tour of the town outing. It was an enjoyable evening featuring a living interpretation of a universally loved film leading me to strongly recommend their next production only asking for a slight tweak to adjust the battle between the selected film playing in the background and the live reenactment segments.

***1/2 Out of 4.

The Secret Sessions | The Movie Experience | Artscape Sandbox | November 2016.

Tags: Stay Curious, Ron BurgundyLive, Immersive, Interactive, Stay Classy, Top Secret, 1970's.



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