Have you ever wondered how you would react if you were the character walking through the spooky house alone in a horror flick? Now you have the chance feel what that is like. Into the Black at the Los Angeles Fairgrounds in Pomona California is a new Halloween event for 2017. It is a three part adventure in that there is a short movie, VR experience and walk through haunted house that all work together to tell the story. You can watch the movie on YouTube before attending the event. The VR experience is a fun short adventure into the past to meet the characters of the home and find out a little more of the history of the house and it’s former residents. The haunted house is an individual experience inside the house which we have now gotten quite familiar with. Overall, it’s a creative, fun and unique event.
The haunted house is beautifully designed and truly feels like it’s own character. One of my favorite things about the design is the use of space. I enjoyed the large room scenes in combination with the claustrophobic hallways. I also love that there are choices to make within the path. The make-up is amazing, of course. Afterall, Larry Bones (Boneyard Effects) is an incredible make-up creator. The hardworking actors are perfectly placed to build tension and then pounce. The sound design is also wonderfully done. I loved the moment when I was following the sound, but could barely see anything. Everything works together so well to create a fresh style of psychologically thrilling experience.
For only a small $5 up charge to your fair admisssion you can walk among 40 life sized realistic animatronic dinosaurs. It pretty darn cool! I know they aren’t actually real dinosaurs (except for a few live creatures on display such as an emu, alligator and tortoise), but they seem pretty real if you let your imagination run wild. I found myself wanting to pet them and at one point talking in “baby talk” to a few adorable animatronic baby dinos.
I really enjoyed Jurrasic Planet and wanted to share it here. I also recorded a bit of my experience which you can watch from YouTube below.
CHAPTER 3 – THE DOOR
You know a show is gonna be great when it sells out in 3 hours and it was amazing. Please note that this review contains spoilers. Expect all three chapters to go into production again this year, so if you’d like to experience the show without any prior knowledge then I recommend you do not continue reading.
Full Cast (left to right) Matthew Bamberg- Johnson as Phil Daring, Nora King as Dorothy Gale, John Henningsen as Lyman, John McCormick as Oscar Diggs (The Wizzard), Genevieve Gearhart as Phoebe Daring
My husband and I arrived and were escorted to a porch-like area to meet with Lyman along with another couple. We spoke with him about the themes of each chapter so far. Chapter 1 was about hope, Chapter 2 opportunity and Chapter 3 the future. The five of us discussed the difference between destiny and inevitable consequence. Within a few minutes the wizard entered to escort us into the house. He inquired as to whether we had brought our keys, as they were very important to what was to come.
Upon entering the house I couldn’t help but feel curious about those who resided there. It was so lived in, unlike what I have come to expect from a theatrical set. As we entered the living room we were introduced to Dorothy. We had our first decision to make. As a group we decided who she was. Then the wizard did a card reading where we each got involved. In an unexpected turn of events Phil and Phoebe/Ozma entered the room through a magical door. They took Dorothy back with them and we were sent on our way.
Overall the show was interesting and unique. The actors were absolutely amazing. It is a wonderfully fun way to be immersed in the retelling of these classic stories. I felt that even though Chapter 3 was the smallest audience per show, somehow it felt the least intimate. I really love what they are doing with The Kansas Collection though. I can’t wait for Chapter 4.
CHAPTER 2 – THE AXE
Who is the patchwork girl? Is it Dorothy? I assumed it was until I started reading L. Frank Baum’s The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Now I’m not so sure.
Now is a good time to say a huge THANK YOU to Speakeasy Society for introducing me to the entire series of books. I didn’t realize there were more after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Kansas Collection inspired me to start reading them.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as we approached the location for the second chapter of The Kansas Collection. I could see patchwork quilts covering the walls as I exited the elevator. Lyman was chatting with guests in the lobby near the makeshift bar. Furniture was scattered about the large room. Some of the drawers were hiding secrets. As I explored I found many letters, song lyrics, a list and more.
I explored the area and chatted with friends until JinJur appeared summoning me and barking orders to get in line. My husband and I, along with another couple, followed her to a small room where she asked if we could be trusted. We were then asked who sent us and led into another area with a tent. Inside the tent we met a very upset Tin Man who no longer goes by the name Nick Chopper. His heartbreaking performance was superb. One of the characters then pulled me aside and threatened me for information which I was unable to give. My husband later told me that he didn’t even notice that happening to me because he was engaged in a secret conversation with the Tin Woodman. It’s amazing how Speakeasy Society manages to give each person their own unique experience even while we are only feet apart in the same room. I think this says a lot about the quality and effectiveness of the storytelling and the performers.
We were led back to the lobby area where we explored a bit more and approached Lyman. My husband and I chatted with Lyman for quite some time. His quick wit had me laughing so hard tears were rolling down my cheeks. He helped clarify that this is taking place in Kansas. He also stressed repeatedly the importance of making choices. My interactions with Lyman were really the highlight of my night.
I am very impressed with Speakeasy Society and look forward to Chapter 3. I highly recommend The Kansas Collection.
We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz…or are we?
It’s a choice. Make a choice. Should you or shouldn’t you see him? Either choice is a choice, so make a choice. The most beautiful thing about The Kansas Collection is the amount of choices you must make. Sometimes you may not even realize you are making them, but this theatrical event mirrors life in that way.
The Key is chapter one of The Kansas Collection. This was my first time experiencing Speakeasy Society’s work. I’d heard about it from all of my immersive theatre friends, so I had to check it out. I went in blind. I had no idea that the show had anything to do with the Wizard of Oz. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it was The Kansas Collection. I just knew everyone loved it and it had something to do with keys.
My husband and I attended the show together. We got our tickets online and eventually received the location in an email. Upon check-in I saw many familiar faces from the immersive theatre community waiting by the fire staying warm since the event took place outside and it a was chilly Los Angeles evening. Everyone was excited for the show and waiting their turn to be called back for their two person show. When Jeremiah and I were summoned to begin we first met with a vibrant character. (I would later find out his name is Lyman.) He set the mood by asking us questions and getting us involved. He then sent us into a tent to fill out a form. While completing our forms I asked the character Jo what the date was. He responded in a rather unusual way explaining that time works differently moving between Kansas and Oz. Then Jeremiah and I were sent in different directions to meet with our individual recruiters for the EC (Emerald City) to serve the Scarecrow King. I pledged my loyalty to the Scarecrow King. I didn’t just say the words, I meant them. I was told to be observant and avoid the man in the hat before being sent on my way back to the fire. I knew where the man in the hat was. I had seen other participants walking up to him and chatting. I wasn’t sure what to do. I talked with my friends for a bit and asked a few of them if they had been told not to speak to him or if I was “supposed to” anyway. Eventually with the encouragement of my friends I approached him hesitantly. I made that choice, even though I was told not to by my recruiter and had honestly pledged allegiance to the Scarecrow King. It was a moment of weakness. I received some information from him, waited while Jeremiah did the same and then we were off on another adventure.
I’ve only been involved in the immersive theatre community for the last year or so and in that time I’ve experienced a handful of immersive events. Some of them included alternate reality games that lasted months before the paid events, but none of them worked quite the same way as this unique form of storytelling. Speakeasy Society sets the bar for this particular form of interactive storytelling. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The shows are fairly short compared to traditional theatre, but incredibly impactful. They are separated into many chapters. Each chapter is another theatrical event moving the overall story forward. It’s brilliant. I was not only impressed with the format and execution of the theatrical piece, I thought the actors did an amazing job.
Overall I’m very impressed with Speakeasy Society and can’t wait to experience the upcoming chapters of The Kansas Collection.