Purple—CRYPTIC CONSPIRACY: THE LOST EPISODE
This was my first College Night experience…and what an extraordinary experience it was…thank you!!
I just arrived home…super charged by the event…amazed that this opportunity exists on your college campus. What a gift you have been given…and a gift whose fullness will be revealed in time…something to look forward to!
There was such a marvelous sense of belonging in the room tonight…and it wasn’t just belonging to the people who were present…it was belonging to all the people who have ever been present at a College Night…Gold and Purple…It felt as though their spirits were in the room with us.
Congratulations on the creation and performance of CRYPTIC CONSPIRACY:THE LOST EPISODE. Mounting a fully produced musical in 6 weeks is no easy task…and you did it! Kudos to you all! No doubt it has been an extraordinary experience…one that has given rise to personal growth and greater collaboration for each of you.
I loved your show from beginning to end! The story was innovative, thoughtful, fresh and imaginative. The score was wonderfully musical, diverse and well7 orchestrated. The players were perfectly suited to their roles and told the story with passion and clarity…and frankly, you all rocked the house! The technical elements were brilliantly imagined, beautifully crafted and worked together to create a unified world that allowed the audience to take a deep dive into the magic of The Woods. CRYPTIC CONSPIRACY is an incredible accomplishment! Congratulations to you all!
I could go on and on with praise for your work and for your performances…so very impressed. I will hit a few highlights and make a few suggestions…things to be considered should you choose to continue working on CRYPTIC CONSPIRACY: THE LOST EPISODE…which I hope you do! Would love to see it expanded into a full length musical.
- Smart. Clever. Sophisticated. New. I Loved it! Well crafted.
- Nice set up of Bigfoot…Loved his surprise entrance in the bar!
- Suggestion: look at trimming the reprise of “What Comes Next”. Once the audience gets the fact that we are back at the beginning and on the same recurring loop…the story is over. Jane running about in a panic went on far too long. Either expand the story or shorten the reprise.
- Great story telling!
- Beautifully crafted to the meter and tempo of the score.
- Love the variety in the score. The use of rhythm and silence was terrific.
- Fine orchestrations.
- Loved the counterpoint and the quartet!
- Nice ensemble work and sound.
- “I Am the Woods” is a terrific number…nice melodic line…great arrangement. Suggestion: Workshop the ending of the number. It has two endings at present and it only needs one. I suggest ending with The Woods last big note and button it. At present it has an addendum that sort of fizzles out.
- The Duet with the counterpoint was terrific…great storytelling. Suggestion: Workshop the ending…it didn’t land. Not sure what it needs.
- Loved the use of rhythm and tempo in “In Woods Forever More”
- Loved the a cappella singing
- Well done! The world of the show was clear and unified from beginning to end.
- Blocking was motivated and dynamic.
- The focus was clear and well defined
- Nice use of stage pictures.
- The pitch of the actors performances was right on!
- Suggestion: When we are in Roanoke the movement from the ensemble was a bit contemporary…some were projecting a sexy vibe. Align the physical life of the ensemble with that of Councilman Abrams and Blythe (severe, austere and asexual)
- Suggestion: the chase sequence needs to be workshopped. Too much dance…not enough story…too much repetition. Play with changes of tempo…stops in the action…and direction changes.
- Suggestion: In the bar sequence make sure the background action isn’t competing with the story. You might try having the ensemble move slightly slower than real time.
- Suggestion: Encourage actors to “cheat out” during dialogue sequences. Young actors tend to stare into each others eyes while playing a scene. In no way is this believable behavior…and our goal is believable behavior. Help each actor find possible moments to cheat out: moments of thinking, imagining, discomfort, uncertainty, etc.
- Scene at Watchtower—avoid eye lock. Alice was too hot in this scene…she could have undercut the emotion and found greater power.
- Great story telling! The choreography was simple and concise…perfect for the story…not over choreographed…THANK YOU!
- Very strong use of composition…nice variety…most effective.
- Suggestion: Get more specific with the movement of the wood sprites. Their energy was terrific but the movement lacked definition…lots of waving arms. You might play with tempo and duration of movement…more levels, etc.
- Suggestion: In Roanoke Village align the physical life of the ensemble with that of Councilman Abrams and Blythe (severe, austere and asexual). The ensemble was much too contemporary and free.
- Suggestion: the chase sequence needs to be workshopped. Too much dance…not enough story…too much repetition. Play with changes of tempo…stops in action…and changes of direction.
- Suggestion: The number in the bar…though well staged…used traditional dance movements…the number would benefit from a vocabulary that is specific to The Woods.
- Well done!
- Nice listening and response.
- You all worked beautifully together to tell the tale.
- The story was very clear.
- Love the bold choices of the characters in the woods
- Very fine physical choices
- Bigfoot—marvelous voice and choices…cheat front on scene and song…I want to see your face not your profile.
- Alice & Jane—avoid eye locks. Find reasons to cheat out and share the story with the audience.
- Terrific voices…very even.
- Wonderful diction.
- Nice choral sound.
- Clean and well rehearsed.
- Wonderful energy, focus and expression from the ensemble
- Sounded great!
- Well done!
- Consistent…well finished…supported the story…just lovely!
- Terrific work from beginning to end. The consistency was terrific…in concept and execution.
- Love the ground row
- Beautifully painted set pieces
- Loved the birch trees and the flying greenery
- Loved Roanoke Village
- Loved the additional flying pieces
Hair & Make-up
- Well done!
- Well done!
- Loved the Banshee puppet!
- Smart use of the equipment that you had…you used it to the fullest…well done!
- Suggestion: The Woods proclamation would be helped by a special or a spotlight…it was unsupported.
- The orange extension cords killed me! Really? Everything in the show was chosen and specific to the The Woods in such a beautiful way…and then here come the orange extension cords…ARGH.
- AND, loved the black light effect on the set.
- Transitions were well imagined, timed and executed
Overall Effect of Production
- I’d say you hit a home run with this show! Congratulations!
- Suggestion: be proud of your work and all that you accomplished! Don’t let it go to your heads.
- Suggestion: Mine this experience for the wisdom that it holds.
- Suggestion: Keep creating!
Thank you for making College Night a huge success! I had a wonderful time and wish all of you the very best!
University of Montevallo
2023 College Night
Evaluation of performance on Saturday, February 11, 2023
First of all, kudos to Everyone for putting together something that typically takes
months, if not years for writers and creatives to accomplish. The whole adage of “not
knowing how the sausage gets made” really does apply to musical theatre. It truly does
take a not-so-proverbial village giving of and giving up their time, imagination, and
energy to make it all happen, to get the finished product on stage. While I only viewed
your final performance, I am fully aware of what it took to get there. Bravo! Brava!
PURPLE side – Cryptid Conspiracy: The Lost Episode
First of all, Thank You for introducing me to the term “cryptid.” At first I thought it was
some sort of made up word – and I guess, in a sense, it is – but once I Googled it, it
turned out to be something I was already very familiar with, but had never seen labeled
as such before. Secondly, and most importantly, Thank You for taking me into the
woods… Into your woods! Thank You for introducing me to the Cryptid Conspiracy.
When I took a glance at the scene breakdown, I immediately began to wonder just how
these disparate settings and elements could come together as a whole. How could it
all make sense? Would it all make sense? As I watched scene after scene, heard song
after song, both my face and brain began to grin with delight. Yes! It all made sense!
And brilliantly so!
Any quibbles I had/have with your presentation center around technical elements
which I am sure would have been worked out if you had been provided the additional
tech time that is part of a traditional rehearsal process. There were a handful of lighting
cues that could have been sharpened and tightened. And while I was truly impressed
by the orchestra and the orchestration – Reeds! Brass! – I am sure some additional
rehearsal time would have clarified some textures, notes, and coordination.
The first two scenes, settings – “Outskirts of the Woods” and “The Woods” –
demonstrated a true sense of ingenuity and practicality. While the trees may have
seemed spare, the placement of them – as well as how they were constructed and
painted – was very effective, and truly established the physical setting of your very
The writing, the exposition in the first two scenes was also the perfect intro to what
was to follow, and it was all done without tipping the hat too much to what was to
come. You welcomed me into your world, and made me want to be along for the ride.
And what a ride it turned out to be!
I truly delighted in how you used the citizens of the lost colony of Roanoke, the
Banshee, and Bigfoot. Again, I wasn’t sure how these would all be related, but you
made your case, you made their case. -The German was a stroke of genius! I literally
Musically, I found it all very inventive, creative, and sophisticated. While different
genres were emulated, the score was a cohesive whole. The writing for the ensemble
chorus – and the execution thereof – made my ears very happy. The aforementioned
orchestrations also demonstrated both admiration and study of different scores and
orchestrators. And while I hesitate to single out any particular vocal performances, the
songs written for the characters of Jane, Carter, Woods, and Alice were delivered
adeptly by Abby Sledd, Thomas Massey, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Natalie Anderson. The
tessitura alone of “You and Me” and “Lament” requires performers who truly know their
voices, their instruments.
And then to have the underworld of The Woods fully realized by your dancers and
ensemble, aided wonderfully by the costumes and makeup truly made that community
a reality up on stage. And then to return to the Outskirts in the final scene with the
expert aid of the choreography… Again, brilliant! -While writing this, I am still thinking
back to the ‘clue’ that Woods dropped right before Jane went through the portal…
Aha! It’s like a nightmarish version of “Groundhog Day”! Could a sequel be in the
works? Or maybe even a prequel? I’ll be sure to set up a Google alert.
Thank You for sharing your talent and dedication with me and your University of
“Cryptid Conspiracy: The Lost Episodes” – Purple Side
It is such a privilege to be invited to judge College Night at Montevallo. This more than 100-year tradition is such a special event and is a testament to the creativity, ingenuity and talent that Montevallo cultivates. This year was no exception. In fact, many of the social media posts I saw after the show (including from Gold Side alums) said that this production may have been the best College Night production ever.
“Cryptid Conspiracy: The Lost Episodes” had a solid story with really exciting moments of surprise. Jane’s central decision and sense of urgency as well as Carter’s love for Jane were clearly set up right away. Having them be creators of a podcast about cryptids and conspiracies, allowed for the horror element to be front and center, and made getting lost in the woods believable. It also allowed for moments of humor as other characters (such as Bigfoot and the citizens of Roanoke) to make sense in the world.
The show had a traditional structure that allowed for a strong beginning, middle and end. Using “What Comes Next” at the beginning AND the end created such a surprising and terrifying final moment as Jane grappled with being stuck in a musical theatre loop and being dragged under the curtain. There was a clear “I Want” song in “Solioquy”, rousing ensemble numbers in “Welcome to Roanoke” and “Stuck in the Middle”, a beautiful and intimate moment that brought depth to the piece in “In Every Lifetime”, and a strong climax as Jane made her final decision. The characters had depth, clear desires and strong relationships to one another and the dialogue was clever. Finally, the meta moments where the characters acknowledged the audience or the performance itself, took the whole piece to another level.
The score was strong and worked as a whole. The opening number and ensemble numbers were catchy, and orchestrated beautifully. The harmonies were strong as well. The solo moments gave insight into the characters’ needs or emotional state but also kept the story moving forward. While the whole score worked as a whole, each character had their own style musically. I was especially impressed with the rhythms and text of “The Woods”.
I was also impressed by the staging and choreography. The power dynamics between the characters were always clear, and in the large ensemble numbers, the storytelling was always first. In the scenes, the direction created interesting stage pictures but every cross or moment was motivated. The setting of the scenes (like the opening table and equipment living up right, or the Alice’s love being in the aisle) allowed for angles and interesting storytelling. Finally, the magical moments, such as the banshee and the portal were simple but really smart ways of creating difficult moments.
The performances in “Cryptid Conspiracies” were rich and believable. Vocally, every performer sang with support, ring and nuance. Abby Sledd as Jane and Thomas Massey as Carter showed such vocal power in their solo numbers, and those with one distinct song, like Natalie Anderson as Alice, Josh Giles as Bigfoot and Ryan Fitzgerald as The Woods sang beautifully. The ensemble also sang and danced with precision and a focus on the storytelling. While everyone on stage was fully committed to the high stakes and relationships, Abby Sledd in particular, created such a strong arc in the central narrative. It was thrilling to see her screaming at the audience at the end of the show.
Finally, all of the technical elements were clever and specific. Scenically, the flying trees allowed for different locations in such a simple way, the prospective on the houses in Roanoke helped such simple structures seem a little creepy, and the black lights on the portal at the end were genius. The lighting also worked beautifully. The show felt bright and fun at the top and as it went on, got creepier and creepier and eventually other-worldly. Even returning to the original look at the end of the show felt creepy as Jane got stuck in the loop. The costumes were also clever, with color palates that showed the differences between the woods, the people of Roanoke, the people in the bar and the contemporary looks of Jane and Carter. The Woods look especially was really interesting. All in all, the technical storytelling was strong.
“Cryptid Conspiracy: The Lost Episodes” was a truly enjoyable production that had humor, horror and strong moments of surprise. I left the theatre with a giant smile on my face. Congratulations to the Purple Side on creating a unified, unique musical and on their win.