This past weekend, I decided to past the point of no return and attend Into the Film’s premiere immersive event, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. The mysterious & magical night was filled with many of my favorite things: immersive theatre, music, puzzles, and a fantastic silent film. After exploring the opera myself, I must recommend that anyone who is also fascinated by any of these things consider attending this exciting event.
Prior to the event, I had received two emails. The first email welcomed me to A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and included a link to a short survey. As an immersive theatre veteran, I surely knew my answers would impact my experience at the opera, so I took the time to answer each question carefully. The following morning I received a second email, cordially inviting me to the “Bal Masque” at the opera house. However, from this point forward, I was no longer Taylor Thorne. Instead, I was to attend the masquerade ball as Vicomtesse Michelle de Limoux, a noble member of the French aristocracy. At least, that is what I was to tell the other attendees at the ball. In actuality, Michelle de Limoux was just an alias, for my “true identity” could only be revealed to a select few guests at the ball.
Upon arriving to the “Théâtre National de l’Opéra,” in my formal gown and ornamented mask, I was pleased to set foot upon a glamorous red carpet leading to one of Santa Monica’s most beautiful historic buildings. The doors had not even opened, and already I felt as though I had traveled to 19th century France. When the doors finally did open and guests were welcomed to the ball, we had the chance to meet the two fabulous Opera Managers, both filled with enthusiasm and excitement to have so many guests in their opera house. From that moment on, guests were fully immersed in the story of the famous opera and all of the mysteries that lie within it.
The evening began in a beautifully decorated room upstairs with cocktail hour, during which guests were welcome to purchase themed beverages and crepes (for an additional charge) prior to the beginning of the stage performances. The cocktails and crepes that I had the pleasure of indulging in were certainly top notch, and I encourage attendees to try at least one of the refreshments offered at the opera. During this time, guests would also have the chance to meet some notable guests, including characters featured in Carl Laemmle’s “The Phantom of the Opera.” As the room buzzed with social and immersive interaction, everyone began to fall into their assigned roles and the experience truly began.
Following cocktail hour, guests were invited downstairs and into the gorgeously-designed theatre to enjoy a few sample performances, designed to encourage opera patrons to attend future shows. It was down in the theatre that the mysterious Phantom chose to perform one of his own famous “acts,” and chaos was unleashed. From this point forward, guests of the opera were told to open the envelopes they had received at the beginning of the evening, and we were all sent to complete our own separate tasks in hopes of solving the mystery of the Phantom. All of this would occur as the silent film, “The Phantom of the Opera,” played on a projector screen in the theatre, accompanied by a live pianist (Bryan Pezzone) and cellist (Jeness). These two talented musicians were truly the MVP’s of the evening, playing flawlessly for the entire duration of the film without breaking. We were warned that we only had until the end of the film to solve the mystery, so I moved with haste to begin completing the tasks laid before me.
Throughout the evening, I was fortunate enough to meet various key characters (represented by immersive actors) that would aid me in completing my tasks. I cannot praise these men and women enough for their astounding performances throughout the entire duration of the evening. Every character encounter I had was genuine and in the moment, and I continuously felt drawn into the mystery of the Phantom. Two specific performers with whom I had particularly outstanding interactions include The Magician (Micah Cover) and Carlotta (Amiée Conn). Both actors wholeheartedly embraced their roles at the opera house and I could not have been more pleased to mingle with each of them.
As I made my way through meeting the lovely characters at the opera, I was also given various puzzles to decipher in order to get closer to solving the mystery. The puzzles were well-designed, and the difficulty level was appropriate for guests from all backgrounds. Unfortunately, though, there were moments during the evening that certain puzzle areas would become overcrowded, due to a great number of character paths crossing one point at the same time. Nevertheless, there was plenty of time to wait patiently for a station to clear out. I would recommend grabbing another cocktail or crepe during times like these.
After completing my series of tasks and solving the puzzles, I was finally given instruction to wait for a certain member of the opera house to lead me to the answers I was looking for. Excited to at last solve the mystery, I made my way over to where I was directed. It seems that this would be the final destination for all of the guests trying to solve the mystery, as it began to get very crowded as time passed. Luckily, this area was near where the screening of the film was taking place, so guests could enjoy the film and the music as they waited.
After waiting a bit longer than I had anticipated, the person I sought out finally arrived and led me through the catacombs to meet the one and only Phantom of the Opera. After a short encounter with him and Christine, the Phantom fled. Though I was told to chase after him, I am sorry to say that I was not able to successfully catch him. I did, however, end up back in the theatre, with no other characters to be found. This was a bit of an awkward moment, since I was not sure if the experience was over or if there was something else I should be doing. After walking around a bit and finally speaking to the Opera Managers again, I learned that the show was indeed NOT over and that guests would reconvene in the theatre once more at the conclusion of the film. Relieved that my experience would not end with the open-ended performance I had just viewed in the catacombs, I made my way back into the theatre with a drink and crepe in hand. The evening ended with one final immersive scene, and then guests were sent on their way.
I left the ball feeling very satisfied with the events that had unfolded, and I have to say, I am already thirsty for more. The creative blend of classic film, live music, immersive theatre, puzzle solving, and social interaction was well-balanced and produced a very unique experience for audience members. I was very impressed with the performances I had experienced throughout the evening, and I was beyond astounded with the various set-designs in each of the rooms I had wandered into. As first productions go, minor bumps in the road are to be expected, but overall the experience was very enjoyable. After having the joy of participating in their first immersive production, I can say with certainty Into the Film is going to be a company for immersive fans to keep on the radar. If you love classic films, dressing up, and becoming a part of a spectacular theatrical story, I highly encourage you to experience Into the Film’s, “A NIGHT AT THE OPERA.
For more information, visit them online at https://www.intothefilm.com/.