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Sleep No More invites audience members to don a mask… and wander through the wonder
Sleep No More invites audience members to don a mask… and wander through the wonder
Mathew Craig

A Tribute to the Most Important Immersive Experience of All Time

Sleep well, "Sleep No More"

Neil Patrick Harris is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wondercade. In his spare time he also acts — fairly well, too, as his Tony and Emmy Awards can attest.

February 21, 2024 4:59 pm

As I said earlier, I may be the biggest Sleep No More fan in New York City. Maybe on planet Earth. And possibly the entirety of the universe. But since it’s nearing ever-nearer to its closing on April 28th, I wanted to celebrate it in Wondercade — and give you enough time to heed my words and book a ticket. So, today, we’ve got Victoria Lee (Head of Operations at its venue, the McKittrick Hotel, who’s been involved from the start) and Ilana Gilovich (Chief Storyteller who started as an intern and has also been performing in the show since 2012) who are here to guide us on this most resplendent retrospective. -NPH

Wondercade: Sleep No More is like nothing else. As it nears the end of its run, can you briefly summarize the show for those who’ve not seen it? And for those who’ve been before, what you see as its legacy?

Ilana Gilovich: It’s a really good question. I think site-specific theatre has been happening for many, many years, but nothing on this scale. The show has these three pillars of dramaturgy: one is, of course, Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The other one is this Alfred Hitchcock mise-en-scène — certainly his film Rebecca, but really his whole canon. And then you also have the real history of the Paisley Witches, who were executed in Gallow Green in Scotland in the 1600s in that country’s last public execution of witches. People start to learn about all this lore, and they spot little clues everywhere in the show. Our team is so dedicated to laying little Easter eggs and making people feel like they’ll never penetrate all of the mysteries found throughout the space. And I say that as somebody who works here! Knowing that the show’s closure is looming, and that I will never know all the mysteries of this building, feels so apt and right.

There’s also occasional dancing — among other surprises
Stephanie Crousillat

For me, one of the most profound and poignant aspects of being a performer [in the show] is the intimacy of getting to do scenes where you are with just one audience member, you look at them in the eye and get to have a moment of sharing a very special scene with them, or telling them a story, or crying in their arms or feeding them tea. You really make a connection with a stranger in the most unattached way. Eventually, the scene ends, and they go off, and you’ll never know their full story. But you were in this suspended moment of intimacy and connection with them. I feel like I’ve learned so much about the human condition just by looking into so many pairs of eyes across these years, and that is a gift.

Part of the show’s legacy was (and is!) the unmatched escapism
Hope Youngblood Heck

Wondercade: Speaking of pairs of eyes, a certain blue-peepered Editor, Publisher and Founder of Wondercade has been in the show before….

Victoria Lee: Neil was also one of our residents [Editor’s note: This is what Sleep No More calls cast members] — he joined us as the Porter [character] back in November of 2011, and again [for a Clue-themed night] in 2016, which were very, very special. Whenever we have a special guest join us as a resident, it’s something we never tell an audience in advance. So it’s a real delight that someone can just stumble across someone like Neil!

We also curated an experience for Neil on his 40th birthday — we created his childhood bedroom. We had many conversations with his parents, and they very kindly shipped lots of toys and other special details. We had in-depth conversations and we built it all into our space, and created a one-on-one which leaned into his stories that his mother shared with us. Then it culminated with him going into a room with all his loved ones for a very special party.

Wondercade: Artists have loved being a part of Sleep No More — both to see the show and to be in the show.

VL: Absolutely! Joel Grey, Evan Rachel Wood, Sara Bareilles, Dita Von Teese, Brendon Urie from Panic! at the Disco, Aaron Paul, Leslie Odom Jr., Alan Cumming, Milo Manheim and many others have been residents.

Actors. Acrobats. Awe-inspiring. Just a few descriptors for the Sleep No More cast.
Stephanie Crousillat

And we’ve had so many celebrities drop in as guests, as well. It’s so charming, because you’re anonymous inside the walls of the McKittrick, so I think there’s great freedom for all our audience members with that — but particularly, I presume, for a celebrity.

We’ve had many lovely musical performances, too. Whether it was Pink hopping on stage to sing a tune at the Manderley Bar [the McKittrick Hotel’s jazz and cocktail lounge], or Jon Batiste’s wonderful set…Sting doing tiny concerts, or one of the Gallagher brothers singing “Wonderwall” in the Club Car [another of the McKittrick’s musical venues]…. We’ve had Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, Colbie Caillat, Kesha, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, New Orleans’s Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Mumford & Sons, and Nile Rodgers all perform in our space, to name a few.

Wondercade: It’s like Coachella for people with taste! As the ol’ saying goes, one door closes, and another opens. As you put SNM to sleep, what’s next for the McKittrick Hotel…?

IG: I can’t say much! My lips are sealed on this one. But I will say, Emursive (which produces Sleep No More) is very committed to creating new work, and doing so in an intrepid way. Not just replicating the same model, but really trying new stuff. And I’m very, very excited to see what’s next.

VL: What I can tease is that we’re definitely beavering away, and we want these next few months to be particularly special. We’re thinking about the many people who’ve been touched by Sleep No More and the McKittrick, and who have been repeat visitors. As always at the McKittrick, we play our cards quite close to our chest…so you’ll have to wait and see!

The entire experience is unforgettable. From start to finish. And beyond.
Driely, S.

Wondercade: Okay, fine, I will refresh your website every two hours for the latest info. Huge congratulations on all the many years of success…and huge anticipation for what’s next!

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