I just got home from seeing the very first show of the Welcome to Night Vale West Coast tour, in which the cast puts on an episode of their wonderful eldritch podcast live on stage. I had very little idea what to expect. We all know that librarians are terrifying nonhumans who represent a clear danger to library patrons and Summer Reading Program students, of course, so the peril was represented in the title, but beyond that, no idea. The podcast is usually just over twenty minutes, and I honestly had no idea if I might have paid fairly steep ticket prices for my sweetie and myself to be in the theater for about half an hour.
If that had been true, it would have been worth it just to be there with that audience. It had not occurred to me
to perform Night Vale cosplay, but the 8pm sold-out audience was composed of the people who'd been waiting with bated breath for ticket sales: the big fans. We stood in line behind a small female Carlos, who did indeed have beautiful hair to go with her goggles and hand-painted NV lab coat. The first Cecil appeared only moments later -- Tumblr-fanon to the life -- and that girl did not have a light-up leaf umbrella, she was the Glow Cloud. There was a hooded figure with glowing red eyes and a Night Vale Dog Park sign, who was hanging around with the Faceless Old Woman. Librarians in pencil skirts and torn, bloodied blouses were jossed only a few minutes into the show, but that's probably the way I'd have gone if I'd thought of it sooner, despite my own completely legitimate lab coat ownership. And afterward Wim helped me find were_duck
's friend M, who had homebrewed LED Glow Cloud on their t-shirt; they nabbed the umbrella girl and her elaborate microcontroller for a photo; and I pulled in the third Glow Cloud, who had an old-school glamour about her puffy lighted wrap. Such the best audience. (The 10pm latecomers seemed much more ordinary as we walked past the two blocks of lineup on our way out.)
I had the wrong idea about the weather, as it turns out. I knew that in Seattle the weather would be performed by Jason Webley, a local accordionist and hipster hero, and assumed that it would be a local artist in each location. Not so: Webley is integrated into the show and will be touring with them. He also opened with a short set, which unfortunately began with the exact same three songs I had heard him play most recently, since they're the ones he did at the Neil Gaiman reading. Sheesh. The giraffe bit is hilarious, but could we mix things up a little more? We can't be the only people who went to both events. Anyway, he stomped and yelled in his usual fashion, then settled down into the parts of his performances that I actually like, here adding a violinist to fine effect. Overall enjoyable, just getting tired of having him pop up suddenly at things I'm going to for other reasons.
The staging was minimal, no props or elaborate costumes, but Cecil Baldwin is a stage actor and does a marvelous job of reading with appropriate gestures as well as intonation. As in the podcast, you don't see much, but the show as written is longer than usual and does a frankly brilliant job at pulling the audience in for participation and effective creepiness. All the musical accompaniment was right on cue*, as in the final show. We got out right around 9:30, and I will tell you nothing else about the story, since they're going to edit it for broadcast later.
If you're lucky enough to have tickets, you are going to be extremely happy with this show! It exceeded my expectations completely, and they weren't low. I kept bumping up against Wim's shoulder on the way home and gleaming at him. He was properly appreciative of his present.
Upcoming shows for which there are still tickets:
- Vegas and Phoenix
- Another just-announced tour in March from Boston down the coast and around through Texas, then the Midwest
- Emerald City Comic-con back here in Seattle (a reason to go to a giant con?)
* There was one hilarious moment during the end of a dramatic Webley song when someone's Mac made a loud "my volume has been adjusted" blip, though. Webley carried on admirably, but I admit that my area of the audience was giggling a bit, and when someone stage-whispered disgustedly, "APPLE," it didn't help us control ourselves.
[ETA: Also, I sat next to an ax for the entire show. And there was a man in a tan jacket with the BEST felt deer-skull mask, we only saw him on the way out. AUDIENCE LOVE.]