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BWW Interview: Cecil Baldwin of WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE at Civic Theatre

Night Vale coming to New Orleans Thursday, March 31

BWW Interview: Cecil Baldwin of WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE at Civic Theatre

A groundbreaking podcast known for pushing the boundaries of storytelling celebrates 10 years as WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE returns to New Orleans this Thursday. WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a radio-style show focusing on the community of the eerie desert town of Night Vale. Featuring announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, and dark hooded figures who frequent the local dog park, NIGHT VALE is Twin Peaks for your ears.

The popular podcast's live show returns with a never-before-heard story, "The Haunting of Night Vale." Show host Cecil and his beautiful scientist-husband Carlos are building their future home, but strange occurrences and ghostly encounters are plaguing the construction process. It's probably nothing. After all, how could a house be haunted before it's even done being built?

Cecil Baldwin, famous for playing the voice of Cecil Palmer, Night Vale radio host, joined BroadwayWorld.com to give insight on Night Vale's latest live show, which will be in New Orleans at the Civic Theatre on March 31st.

BroadwayWorld.com: So, NIGHT VALE is officially 10 years old this year.

Baldwin: Yes, I think we're hitting 10 years old in June.

BWW: Any thoughts on the longevity of the podcast?

Baldwin: I'm kind of nostalgic. I feel like 10 years is a decade of my life that I've been working on this project. I look back at where I was 10 years ago, and this was just a free, kind of fun experiment that the writers and I started. It's hard to believe that now 10 years later and it's completely changed my life in every way possible. It's so big I can't even wrap my brain around it sometimes.

BWW: I don't even know how many episodes that would be.

Baldwin: I think we took 200 and change. 200+.

BWW: So, the current tour is called "The Haunting of Night Vale." What can you reveal to me about the story?

Baldwin: Well, much like all of our NIGHT VALE live shows, these live shows are made to not only give longtime fans of the podcast the familiar characters and scenarios that they love from the podcast but also to open the door for new viewers who've maybe never listened to a single episode. So, "The Haunting of Night Vale" follows my character, Cecil Palmer, and his husband Carlos, and they are building a house together in NIGHT VALE. Unfortunately, it's NIGHT VALE, so the house that they are building from the ground up is already haunted. It's a bit of a spoof on home and garden tv shows, and home renovation shows and playing with those tropes of what you do when your house is haunted, and you have no idea by what or who. It's very funny, and it's a little bit spooky, and I hope audiences will enjoy it.

BWW: What characters aside from Cecil and Carlos will we be able to expect?

Baldwin: We bring along as many actors as we can. I know Tamika Flynn will be making an appearance played by Symphony Sanders. I believe there is a part for Michelle Nguyen, the sort of cranky, hipster owner of the Dark Owl Records store in NIGHT VALE. I believe she will also be making an appearance.

BWW: What can you tell me about how the stage show differs from an episode of the podcast?

Baldwin: Well, we decided early on to keep our live shows as simple as possible in the style of radio theatre. We didn't want to spend a lot of time and money and effort on using props and costumes and set pieces to transport people to the world of NIGHT VALE because it found its success in the realm of audio storytelling. So, we go for this radio theatre aesthetic, which is people on stage behind a microphone with scripts in hand and letting the words and the performances speak for themselves.

BWW: So, for someone who's never heard the podcast before, they can just dive right on into the story?

Baldwin: Yea, we definitely understand that these live shows are a very different animal than the podcast, in which you have 200 episodes to get to know characters and their relationships. And the glory of these live shows is that they're made sort of for the fans and also for new eyes. We lead our new audience members by the hand a little bit, establish some relationships, but of course, it's the world of NIGHT VALE, so it's a little bit weird and spooky and funny at the same time.

BWW: Where the mundane is the extraordinary, correct?

Baldwin: Yes, exactly. There is nothing scarier than the normal, and there's nothing normal about anything scary.

BWW: What can you tell me about the music of NIGHT VALE?

Baldwin: So, there are two different musicians. Disparition is the soundtrack of NIGHT VALE. He makes all the underscore for the episodes for the podcast and the story of the live show. But we also travel with another musician who is sort of a rotating slot, and that's our weather slot. Much like on the podcast, when Cecil Palmer cuts to the weather, rather than describe the actual weather, it's an independent musical artist. And they play a song that is unrelated to the story of the podcast. And on the live shows, we travel with another musician, and it is sort of a rotating slot.

I think for New Orleans, it's Mal Blum. They are part of the live show as they do an opening set; we let them do their thing, and then during the show, when Cecil cuts to the weather, Mal comes out and performs a song. But it has nothing to do with the themes or the plot or story of the episode. I think of the weather songs as kind of like a palate cleanser. Sometimes the themes of the song and the themes of the episode line up, but it's total serendipity.

BWW: Any thoughts on returning to New Orleans?

Baldwin: Oh, I love New Orleans. It was one of the first cities we toured back when we were trying to figure everything out, and I have such a soft spot for that city, and it's a city that embraces live performance. Music, theatre, storytelling, all of that. And it's such a joy to return to New Orleans and return to the Civic Theatre, which is a theatre we know and love. And after being two years on hiatus because of the pandemic, this is really an exciting time to dive back into live, theatrical performance.

Tickets for "The Haunting of Night Vale" are $28-$45 via civicnola.com.



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