People can entertain themselves today at a click of a button. Yet some in the entertainment industry hopes that its audience leaves their houses sometimes. The film industry to some cynics is just a concession stand that has rooms that show films. Companies in that industry have bearable prices that nonetheless glacially inflate, and they justify that in many ways. When we get you in the theatre there’s an arcade a trivia game before the movie starts. VIP theatres get their audience serves so they don’t have to line up for food. Et. cetera.
For a little bit more than your VIP prices, The Secret Sessions LTD elevates that movie experience. The company also plans to try out entertainment experiences beyond movies like fitness, etc. But right now, they’re focusing on movies a la Secret Cinema. The immersive nature comes in a week or so before we even get to the space showing the film. A prospective audience member sends an RSVP, then they e-mail back specific instruction separately. The first instruction is to dress up as a 1970’s newscaster and to stay classy.
Yes, they’re showing Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Eventually I got to the place where they’re screening the film. The people at Secret Sessions dedicated the first hour of the event to feeding the guests. They had a snack bar, a burrito bar, and a cash bar. The patrons find themselves surrounded by replicas of the iconic props featured in the film. Set pieces don’t just take up one side of the room but two. All of this is important in immersing the patrons as The Secret Sessions promise.
What really sells this experience are the actors, who basically function as a shadow cast but with a twist. During the drink and dine section of the evening the actors occasionally come out and socialize with us. Sometimes they talk to the people they already know and at others they’ll mingle with the other patrons. They’re good at improvising and staying on character. And I know that that’s the bare minimum that actors need to do their jobs. But I marvel at it anyway. Before the hour mark, they let the patrons participate in the iconic fight scene.
They also reenact certain scenes of the film in the set pieces and in the centre of the room. I really like this format because it allows the patrons to move around as freely as the actors. The actors playing Ron and Veronica made a Trump joke or two. The performance happened the day after the US election, the results still in people’s minds. We all tried to immerse ourselves to more innocent times but the present day is still the present day. Besides, the film is about a highly competent woman trying to break into the world of incompetent men. But humor the kind of thing we need right now, and the movie and the shadow cast more than delivered.