A 4th Turn at Sleep No More

The one good thing about returning to something after such a long time is that that “thing” is fresh to you again. The one bad thing about returning to something after such a long time is that is has done a lot of growing, or for this sake, aging while you were gone. That is the story about my 4th trip to Sleep No More (SNM for short). If you want to read ahead about my trip be mindful of the spoilers because the show is best experienced without anything in mind. I will try not to give away many details but it is the nature of the SNM fandom to rant, spill all the details, and gloat about personal victories.

**~~SPOILERS AHEAD~~**

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Going Out with a Bang

Now when I booked myself a 4th trip to Temple Studios I had no idea that I would have such the experience. That’s the glory of a Punchdrunk production: you never really have any clue what is in store for you! I am quite happy that this was my final go. I leave the production behind me with questions left unanswered, things left unseen, and stories still untold. That’s the way it’s supposed to be after all! If you’ve figured everything out about it the show loses it’s mystique.

If will keep my recap very spoiler free, because being my very last film wrap up party at Temple Studios I would rather keep much of it to myself. These are the last images that will be engrained in my head forever.

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The Third Times the Charm!

They always say it’s the third movie in a series where the entire series makes sense. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Scream, Lord of the Rings, and so on! Everything always makes sense after the third one. It’s when you learn new things and are able to connect all of the dots to the story.

The story with The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable is less about that of Woyzeck, but more of Temple Studios. Who runs it? Does it run it’s self? Who is benevolent? Is anyone even really nice?

With my third go at the Punchdrunk masterpiece, I was able to get close to answering these types of questions. So if you don’t mind spoilers, continue on and read about my journey!

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A Second, Surprise Trip to Temple Studios.

**** THIS POST ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON MY TUMBLR, HERE.****

After a few Tumblr exchanges I somehow found myself headed into London to see Frances Koncan. Obviously that somehow meant we were bound to end up seeing The Drowned Man. Being only my second time I was in awe of Frances’ wealth of knowledge about the show. She is a walking dictionary filled with happiness and joy; I loved every second of it! Any who, what follows is my recap of my sudden surprise second journey to Temple Studios and The Drowned Man. Watch out for spoilers!

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Sleep No More: The Trilogy

Yes, the only way to describe a Sleep No More experience is to categorize it as a movie of sorts. Because in all actuality, it’s not just a theatrical experience, but a cinematic one as well. My third trip to the McKittrick hotel, in the sleepy part of Chelsea, was one that was supposed to be the end for me, but as those haunted halls do, it is drawing me in more than ever.  Thursday January 3rd represented the start to both a new year with Sleep No More, and a new year for myself as a person.  I went having had the Bald Witch tell me the last time that the third time was going to be the charm. And to be completely honest, I had planned on it being the last until I turned 21. Watch out ahead for some spoilers.

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Sleep No More Par Deux

Okay so it has been about a week and a half since my second Sleep No More visit. Unlike many people, where if you don’t catalogue your experience immediately you forget it, I prefer to think about it for a while and dissect the little nuisances of the things that I saw. This took me a while because my second stay at the McKittrick Hotel was a rather fruitful one. I had the immense pleasure of going with a decade old friend and some of her new friends whom I have never met before. I don’t plan on going into much detail, because I think my night is a very personal experience, but there will be light to moderate spoilers ahead so WATCH OUT!

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Theatre Review: The Marvelous Wonderettes at CM

Creative Ministries Performing Arts Center, commonly known as CMPAC or CM, in Oakdale Long Island has been running a production of the Marvelous Wonderettes. The musical tells the story of second choice girl singing group performing at their schools senior prom, and then at their 10 year reunion. Each one of the girls fills a typical high school stereotype: the ditz, the flirt, the outcast, and the popular girl. Interspersed between classic songs of the era, like Mr. Sandman or Stupid Cupid or Lollipop, you get glimpses into what is really going on within the girl group and you see all their issues. The first act ends as the audience votes one of the Wonderettes prom queen.

Act two focuses on the 10 year reunion, and seeing where all of the girls are now. The group is now pregnant, engaged, widowed, or on the road to divorce. It’s here where they realize the true ever lasting bonds of friendship. They realize they will always have the support of each other, no matter what happens.

It is an all around cute production. The 4 actresses all had powerhouse voices and equally comedic talents but were able to tone it down when necessary. The story it’s self was not perfect and had numerous flaws. But the familiarity of the songs made it all okay and bearable. There were some sound issues, but those can be expected with a non-profit organization like CM. The live orchestra was refreshing but often overpowered the easy voices of the performers.

All in all it is a very cute production that is light hearted and highlights 50’s standards. Keep an eye out for CM’s upcoming productions of La Cage Aux Folles and 9 to 5 coming later this summer. Click here for more details.

Theatre Review: Next To Normal at Theatre Three

I was fortunate enough to see the Long Island Premiere production of Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s rock musical Next To Normal. It is the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning and Tony Award Winning musical about A family dealing with loss and mental illness. The characters, story content, and music is iconic, regardless of it being around for only 5 short years. This production was put on by Theatre Three, in Port Jefferson Long Island, a very fitting place for a LI premiere.

First of all let me give the producers and creative staff major credit for being so willing to take on such a monumental production. This is a musical that will be seldom performed do to its heavy nature and very mature content. I must also applaud the director for making individualistic choices, and not mirroring a successful broadway production. Being such an iconic piece, he owned up to it just enough, without being afraid to make his own creative decisions. I give a big brava to the pit, just having an orchestra, instead of a track, set this show above anything else playing in a non-equity house on Long Island at the moment. Credit to the actors who all gave outstanding performances, especially those who played Natalie and Gabe (the romantic interests). The mother, Diana, and the son, Gabe, did wonders with the two most difficult roles, both owning up to and highlighting their own character work.

Now I know you are not supposed to compare something like this, community theatre, to the original productions, but I will anyways. There is currently 7 professional productions currently running or opening at this moment across the world, and this show could very well hold its own against that. The only issue being these performers do not contain the stamina and wherewithal to perform at that level. This shows limited run was even a stretch for their abilities. Also Next To Normal is seeing marred success do to its audiences. They have an extremely large seasonal subscription basis within their audience. Subscription audiences tend to be elderly or only seeing the show to get their moneys worth. That was a majority of the audience I sat amongst. The show is far too contemporary and heavy for that kind of theatre goer. The other portion of the audience was largely fans of the musical, the ones who have seen it 6 or 7 times and can recite it by heart. They came looking for a carbon copy of the broadway production and more than likely left unsatisfited.

All things considered this production had a rare quality for Long Island theatre; it had exactly that, quality. It wasn’t a cheap get to make money, it was performed and created out of passion, love, and care, and it showed immensely. Would I easily consider this one of the best shows I have seen come out of Long Island Community Theatre, yes in fact I would. I leave you with this quote from the musicals finale:

“the price of love is loss, but still we pay, we love anyway.”

Sleep No More – My Stay At The McKittrick Hotel

Let me first say that this is an experience that everyone should have. Sleep No More is an absolutely immersive and visceral experience. The lack of dialogue, when replaced by both music and dance, institutes an emotional and guttural reaction within the audience. There has to be a way to describe this theatrical artistic event, but nothing comes to mind. I will instead recount the events that I experienced. So warning, spoilers are afoot.

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I approached the McKittrick Hotel, and was swiftly ushered inside. I received my card and walked down a long pitch-black hallway, filled with winding turns and no sign of an end. Out the other end there was the Mandeleray Bar. We were in the 1930’s now. The booze was flowing and the atmosphere was lush.

We got called to the elevator area, where we donned our masks and took a vow of silence. We were warned that fortune favors the bold. As we all entered the elevator, the bellhop gave us a few more rules for our evening. The elevator door opened, I stepped off first. I turn around to see no one is following me; the bellhop stuck out his arm and closed the elevator door, leaving me alone. Instantly my heart started pounding, I was alone in a maze of this other world. I meandered through the level. Passing through the sanitarium, the hospital like area, and the forest up to the witches hut. I found my way to the darkened street. There I waltzed into the photography dark room where, after an actor (Malcolm) and actress got into an altercation over a photograph, Malcolm pulled me into a secret room where he opened up a chest with eggs. He took off my mask, an almost liberating experience, making me less an observer and made me feel like a part of this crazy mess. He placed and egg in my hand, and then smashed it into my palm. It was filled with dirt, which the actor continued to rummage through the dirt, pressing and rubbing it into my hand. Then he started convulsing and coughing. He coughed up a feather and placed it into my hand. He promptly pinned me against a wall. He held a magnifying glass to my face, and asked if I saw the signs as well. He began to recite a line from Macbeth, “Last Tuesday a falcon was murdered…” That is all I can remember. He turned the lights off, kissed me on the neck and left the room.

The rest of the events of my stay at the McKittrick Hotel had no sense of time or order to them, I don’t know when I saw them in relation to the story or the amount of time there. I watched as the tailor found bible passages sewn into his pants, I watched a woman steal money from the tailor. I watched that same woman be comforted by Hectate. The sexy witch pulled me into the candy shop and fed me candies then lead me towards the cardboard bar. There she entered into a dance with the bartender. It was sensual, passionate, and emotional. I watched a card game take place between three guys, and then it ends when Macbeth kills Banquo. I ended up at the end of the hour, with all of the characters at the table in the ballroom for the banquet.

After it was over, I quickly followed the nurse after the scene. She went up flights of stairwells, and I watched as she set up, and restarted her story line again. I could tell she knew I was following her, for we made deep eye contact numerous times. I watched as she undressed Lady Macbeth, took her clothes, folded them and placed them away, I followed her as she was washed pajamas and set them to dry. As she tried wash blood off her hands, unsuccessfully, she performed a frantic dance in a window before dropping to the other side. I jumped through the window and ran after her as she made off through the forest, towards the hut. She was pulled inside the hut by the other nurse or orderly. They shared a brief exchange, in which the nurse I had been following seemed almost trepidatious and cautious. She then got up, pointing to me, and took my hand. She lead me across the floor to the therapists room, where she pulled me in, closing the door behind her. She took my mask off, and sat me on the bed. As we maintained an intimate eye contact as she laid me down and tucked me into the bed with a wool blanket. The music in the room was overcome with heartbeats that grew more and more rapid; as she came closer and closer to kissing me night, then boom. A light switches on illuminating some writing on the wall about the death of Duncan. The nurse lets out a shrill scream and starts coughing uncontrollably. She eventually coughs up a nail and then demands that I leave.  Before I do, she cautions me that I must not tell anyone what had occurred. I was now left in the middle of the hospital hallway. I wandered around, and then saw the nurse leave the therapists room. She walked into another room, so I followed her. The room had a display in it that was filled with nails. She took a bunch out and began to line them up, organizing them; eventually they spelt out immortal. She freaked out, slamming the nails away. She ran into another room, where she performed a dance onto of a hospital table.

I walked away and stumbled upon a scene where three men were examining the dead King in his bed, he was covered in feathers and they carried him out as if he was on the cross. I wandered back down to the street where I found the three witches, who led a group towards the bar. Hectate cackled, as strobe lights and laser lights took over the room. Bumping rave music took over the room. They danced and the clothes came off. There was a bloody baby, a tree, a ram head and a threesome visible through the flashes of light. A pure sensory overload, I could not even process what was occurring until after it had ended. Well it ended, and all of the actors tore off in their own directions. I followed the male witch as he nakedly stumbled around, until he fell into a bathroom and shower. He laid on the floor in the fetal position trying to wash the blood off of his body. He struggled, barely able to stand, but managed to turn the water off. He outstretched his hand, begging for a towel, which I handed to him. He struggled putting his underwear and socks on, then threw pants into my hands. I had to figure out how to put the pants and suspenders on him. I helped him stand up, watching as he combed his hair. He pointed me towards a shirt on a hanger, I continued to put the shirt on him, and help him out. He slumped onto me, and continued to lead us towards the ballroom. He was majorly unable to stand on his on, I found myself keeping both the witch and myself up. We fumbled our way down stairwells and into the ballroom. He held me in a long embrace before he parted ways and climbed the stage.

I watched the finale unfold before my eyes. A slow motion dinner that turned from celebratory to tense to passionate to angry to murderous. After it had ended, the swinging would serve as your final image of the show. I started to follow the crowd out, when my eyes met with the male witch one more time. He was standing, stiff as a board, while others moved past him and towards the exit. I cautiously approached him, and he slumped onto me. Both supporting each other, we walked towards the exit. We had just reached the exit, when everyone started taking his or her masks off. I motioned to take my mask off, but the witch forced me to keep it on my face. We reached the bar where we started our journey three long hours ago, and the male witch pinned me against a near by wall, tearing off my mask. He embraced me for a long while, as he whispered thank you to me. He let go of his grip and disappeared into the masses of people.

Just like that, my stay at the McKittrick Hotel was over. I met up with my guest and we headed for home as we recounted our stay, each of us having had completely different experiences. I missed entire floors and characters. I must go again, as soon as possible, to make sure that I can actually experience more things and begin to build the plot. After one stay I have no clue what the story is at all. I plan to check back into the hotel as so as I truly can, until then I shall Sleep No More.

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