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Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL

by Spy Brunch

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL

Dragons... fairies... knights... enchanted meadows... spooky caves... all part of an immersive experience into your favorite childhood fantasies in Spy Brunch's site-specific adventure, Dragon Show: The Extended Tail. Filled with original songs and a memorable cast of characters, just 12 audience members will be admitted into each performance to enjoy the kind of intimate and memorable experience that immersive theatre delivers best.

As a true fan of the genre, how could I resist a production such as this? So, I decided to speak with Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones, writers/producers/directors from Spy Brunch to find about more about them and the creation of their immersive fantasy world.

Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedules to answer a few questions about the show. First, how long have the two of you been working together on immersive theater?

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL Nick: Katelyn and I first collaborated on Safehouse '77 in 2017, my immersive debut as writer/director. I cast her as an actor, but the process of making the show was very collaborative and Katelyn contributed so many amazing ideas to help flesh out not just her own character, but also the production itself. By the end of the run, we were already talking about writing a show together, fully bringing Katelyn's expertise as a playwright to the table. In 2019 we wrote and directed The Pod together, and it's been magic ever since!

Safehouse '77 was such a fun, immersive experience, especially being in a house filled with so many things I remembered from my own past. So how did you come up with the storyline for Dragon Show: The Extended Tail?

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL Katelyn: Long story short: I wanted to give everyone a dragon. I don't know what dragons mean to you, but for myself, they are the greatest keepers of our human imagination. Across cultures, they speak for places and moments of power, magic, and the great unknowns. It's fascinating to me that we've devised the most powerful creature we could possibly imagine - the scariest boss at the end of every game... but then in these stories, we discover dragons share the same struggles as our human experience: battling with loneliness, being misunderstood, balancing their strengths and weaknesses, and trying to discover their own purpose in this weird wonderful life as things constantly change around us. Whenever I felt small these past few years, like I didn't know how to do it anymore, I channeled a dragon, and let it breathe for me. I wanted to give that same strength to everyone out there fighting their own dragon battles. But not just give you a dragon - to give you an escape back into your imagination, to return to the play and magic we so desperately need to heal and grow, no matter how much we've changed.

How is this production different from the previous one, Dragon Show (How Do Dragons Blow Out Candles?)

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL Nick: We always make tweaks and additions whenever we remount an existing show, but with Dragon Show we wanted to take that process a step further and truly build out the production in significant ways. First and foremost, we brought the running time up to two hours, which enabled us to both add new scenes and allow the audience more time for free exploration in our "enchanted meadow." Our absolutely brilliant lyricist/composer Weston Gaylord wrote several new songs to accompany the added material, resulting in a show that truly feels like an immersive musical. Finally, since we've always loved including complex puzzle trails as part of our productions, we've created a mystery hunt that runs through the duration of the show and enables audience members to uncover lore about the characters and world - as well as influence the entire outcome of the story!

Do audience members need to have seen the previous show to follow the characters and story, or does this one catch audience members up to what has happened previously?

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL Nick: Dragon Show: The Extended Tail is not a sequel but rather an expanded version of the original show, so there is absolutely no need to have seen the previous version; however, if you did see it, you'll be in for lots of new surprises!

I read the cast features Steve Bradford, Mads Durbin, Shoshanna Green, Mandy Rubeli, Katelyn Schiller, Reed Sights, and Michaela Skaribas. Tell me about the characters they portray and how you created them. Are they based on people you know or imagine yourselves to be, or strictly from the world of fantasy?

Katelyn: The fantastical world of characters and creatures of Dragon Show is a cornucopia of inspiration from childhood storybook characters, imaginary friends, and fantasy video games. The cast themselves do an incredible job and play a part in further developing these personalities with all the darling quirks and quips that endear us to one another.

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL How will the audience be introduced to them?

Nick: The setting of Dragon Show: The Extended Tail is a once-in-a-lifetime festival thrown by the Dragonfly Fae, a community of fairies who eternally serve the fearsome dragon known as The Veil. The fairies have invited human guests to their enchanted meadow for the very first time, in hopes that the newcomers will boost the dragon's spirits. It's a delightful gathering, yet it also feels like it could turn deadly at any moment - and can these whimsical creatures be trusted? You'll have to attend the party to find out!

Tell me about how the puppets were designed for the show.

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL Katelyn: From the earliest stages of developing this experience, we knew we needed a true physical embodiment of The Veil, the fearsome dragon at the center of our story. We reached out to a great design team in the UK - where they take dragon history quite seriously! - and discussed our needs for The Veil's appearance... how she'd move, the feeling in her eyes, and all the details that would flesh her out. Linda Richardson and Andy Bates of the Hazelsong Theatre in North Yorkshire designed and built the amazing puppet by hand over a number of weeks, and we were absolutely thrilled with what they were able to create! The two of them have been making dragons for festivals, parades, and theatrical events for many years and they really shared our passion in telling The Veil's story through her physical appearance. She's so lifelike, we both jumped back when we opened the box and saw her face for the first time!

The music created by Weston Gaylord for the show must be very specifically created for each of the characters and scenes. Was Weston at rehearsals prior to creating the music? Is it played live or pre-recorded during the show?

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL Nick: Weston is an absolute musical genius, not to mention one of the wittiest writers we know, and he really locked onto Katelyn's whimsical-yet-dark storytelling to create a song score that filled out the characters and the world. He also served as musical director, coaching the actors on their vocals and making sure each musical moment felt organic to the story. During performances, the actors sing live to a pre-recorded instrumental track. The incidental score pieces that play throughout the show are a mixture of Weston's compositions and also some that I contributed.

What other technical staff works on the live shows?

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL Nick: Shoshanna Ruth Green serves many key roles, including assistant director, fight choreographer, and lead scenic designer (whew!). Some of our key set elements were designed and fabricated by John Carrillo and Cam Sampson. Alexis Rheinwald-Jones crafted our fairy house interiors. Anna Schumacher supervises lighting design. Briana Roecks is our costume designer. Our stage managers are Amanda Eno and Courtney Rhodes.

What do you hope audience members take away from the show?

Katelyn: I hope they leave filled with the excitement of discovery and insight that our magical characters and world have made possible. As I mentioned above, dragons are very meaningful to me as spiritual metaphors and we're thrilled to have the chance to empower audiences by connecting to these rich mythologies. Combined with the mysterious puzzle trail, amazing songs, and gorgeous scenery, we think this will be an experience that is thrilling, whimsical, and heartwarming.

Anything else you'd like to share about yourselves or the production?

Nick: We're just incredibly excited to bring this show into the world after years of being sidelined by the pandemic. Whether you're an immersive theatre fan or a total newbie, we think you'll have a fun - and lightly thrilling! - time in our mystical, off-the-beaten-path world. Who knows what will happen when you step inside the story?

Interview: Katelyn Schiller and Nick Rheinwald-Jones on Their Immersive Interactive DRAGON SHOW: THE EXTENDED TAIL Thanks so much for all your insights into the production. I hope many readers will be as excited as I am to attend Dragon Show: The Extended Tail, a 120-minute interactive immersive production from Spy Brunch LLC, creators of groundbreaking, award-winning shows The Pod, Sherwood & Nottingham and Safehouse '77. It runs at a site-specific location in Los Feliz September 8 through October 2, 2022 with performances at 8pm Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets range from a single ticket ($100) to a VIP experience ($125). Visit https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2195409®id=9&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fspybrunch.ticketleap.com%2Fdragon-show-extended%2F?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton1 to purchase. And do so soon as there are only 12 audience members admitted to each performance!

Production photos by Nick Malis



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