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BWW Interview: Andrew Barth Feldman Wants You to Solve a Mystery with BROADWAY WHODUNIT?

Are you ready for a trip to Camp Eerie?

BWW Interview: Andrew Barth Feldman Wants You to Solve a Mystery with BROADWAY WHODUNIT?On August 1, theatre fans around the world found a new way to celebrate Broadway in a time with... no Broadway. Broadway Whodunit? officially launched earlier this month with 'Murder at Montgomery Manor'- a live, unscripted murder mystery.

The interactive, virtual event featured Broadway performers playing a slew of zany characters- one of which was murdered! The detectives (viewers) then attempted to solve the mystery by going between different "rooms" to follow the clues, watch the story unfold, and find the murderer, all in real time.

The second event (August 30, 6pm), Escape to Camp Eerie, is set to include an incredible new cast of characters, including Rob McClure, Lesli Margherita, Solea Pfeiffer, Sky Lakota-Lynch, Gabrielle Carrubba, Jason Tam, Alex Boniello, Celia Rose Gooding, Will Roland, and Andrew Barth Feldman- the mastermind behind the mysteries.

Below, we're catching up with Feldman, who made his Broadway debut just last year as the title character in Dear Evan Hansen, following a win at the 2018 Jimmy Awards. Read on to find out what to expect from Mystery #2 and more!

I know that you just wrapped Murder at Montgomery Manor. How much fun did you have?

It was the most fun I've had this whole quarantine. It was magic! I was so nervous, because there were so many tech pieces that could have gone so wrong, and I'm knocking on wood right now, that they don't the next time. Everything went perfectly though! Within ten minutes I was able to just sit there and enjoy it like it was any of the other crazy murder mystery parties that I've done. And I didn't have to worry about where the story was going, because I knew that would take care of itself. It was the most fun ever and I can't wait to do it again.

Did you learn anything either logistically or technically from the first time around?

There were definitely some little things- some people reached out to us and said, 'Hey, here's a better way that you can do this or that.' That's been so helpful. It's mostly going to be the same, but with just a couple of changes to make it all a bit quicker.

In truth, we reached out to a couple of programmers asking if they could help us, and they responded like: "What you're doing sounds crazy and I don't know how to do it." [Laughs] So essentially we just figured it out ourselves- just me and my brother messing around and trying different ways to make it all work. So yeah, there are ways that it can be improved, but it worked from Day 1!

The August 30th murder is called Escape from Camp Eerie... what can people expect from this plot?

It is a lot of people who really don't want to leave... It's the end of summer and they are holding on to it as long as they can.

My understanding is that the actors only get a kind of outline from you with directives about how to further the plot, but then they can do whatever they want to fulfill them. Is that right?

Before they come they get just a character description that describes the backstory, connections they should know, and what they should wear. That's it! Then while we're there in front of the audience, they get their list of objectives, which all kind of wrap into each other and further the story. They haven't seen that at all yet though. Then when someone dies, they get a second set of objectives to further the story even more, to try to figure out who did it.

I can't imagine how much fun that is going to be, specifically with Rob McClure and Lesli Margherita...

I'm almost not even writing for Rob [Laughs]. I'm just gonna let him do whatever he wants. And Lesli, I now know well enough too, that I'm like, "I know exactly what I want you to do here!" That's really been the fun part. I've been casting it first and then deciding what the theme is and who the characters are. I'm just writing it around these brilliant people. And this group is so funny!

Do you intend to be a part of every cast?

I think there will come a time when I decide to step back and let it happen, but at least for right now, I definitely feel more comfortable being in the room and being able to steer it in a certain direction. This is the first time though, in any of my murder mystery parties, that I'm not the host. I'm letting Rob do that this time.

Oh, I didn't realize!

Yeah, I have the utmost faith in him. I mean, I'm a little nervous, but I know he'll be perfect.

Is the intent to do one of these every month?

At least until we're all out in the world, yes. I'd do it more frequently, but I've gotta write them! Then when we're back, I think we're finding ways that we can keep this going. I'm excited to keep exploring that.

What was the response like from the first audience?

It was so much more positive than I could have possibly imagined. I hoped and felt while we were doing it that people would love it, but I wasn't looking at the chat. But just watching the hundreds of comments at the end... it was crazy. I was so happy to see that these people were invested the whole time, because I was busy doing a bit! So to see that people were so into it and even taking notes... I felt so proud.

This is the kind of diversion that people need right now...

Yeah, I really wanted to try to bypass the novelty of the 'Zoom theatre' that we've been seeing, which is amazing, but I think we're definitely getting to a point of feeling tired of it. I wanted to find something that was more than novel, but something interesting, that's really utilizing technology.

So many people in the entertainment industry have been dealing with a a lot of downtime right now, though I would guess you haven't had a lot of that between Broadway Jackbox and this. Are you typically that go, go, go kind of person?

That is definitely who I am [Laughs]. To have this project is the best for me... to always have something that I can be working on.

You're still very much at the beginning of your career and I'm sure you have so many awesome projects ahead of you, but do you ever have a moment to stop and think: "Wow, how the hell did I get here?"

BWW Interview: Andrew Barth Feldman Wants You to Solve a Mystery with BROADWAY WHODUNIT?
Feldman in Dear Evan Hansen
Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski

Every single day! Just this morning watching the response to Whodunit, and being able to say all of those names into a microphone with a silly voice for the trailer... I was like, "What the hell? How do I even have these people's phone numbers?!" These people are my heroes. These are people who I've looked up to for so long. And now I've worked with some of them! And I'm making them do this dumb, dumb thing [Laughs] and they're all so excited. And when I try to put things into perspective, honestly, I tear up. I'm so amazed at what I've gotten to do and frankly, what I've gotten away with.

I love so much that you seem to be such a fan still. Please don't lose that!

I don't want to! Honestly, it's what got me through Dear Evan Hansen- reminding myself what a fan I was of the show and the people. Even Alex [Boniello]! I was such a big fan of his and now I talk to him... way too much. [Laughs] It's all so mind-blowing to me.

What are you most excited about in looking ahead at August 30th?

From what I've written so far, I think it's going to be harder for the audience to figure it out. I'm definitely throwing the audience a more difficult one now that we have one under our belts. I'm really excited to see if they figure it out.

But also- I'm so excited to see the funniest people I could imagine getting together and riffing off of each other. I have to say- Sky Lakota Lynch, who is the funniest person I know, definitively, as soon as I gave him his character description, he sent me a minute-long video of himself riffing in character. He was all in! But they are all so funny, so I can't wait for the jokes that will come out of this. I can't wait to be part of it.

Click here for tickets to Broadway Whodunit? Escape from Camp Eerie

BWW Interview: Andrew Barth Feldman Wants You to Solve a Mystery with BROADWAY WHODUNIT?

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