The “choose your own adventure” musical theatre concert, from creative director Ryan Carter, is available to stream now.
We’ve been enduring this pandemic for almost a year now, so it’s a real breath of fresh air to be presented with an original concept. While we’ve appreciated the theatres that have been posting archive recordings on their streaming services, we’ve always been aware that these shows were designed first and foremost for a live audience – the recordings often do a decent job of capturing the experience, but we know watching at home on the small screen isn’t the preferred medium for consuming this content.
The Secret Society of Leading Ladies has not only been built from the ground up with the home audience in mind, but also delivers a truly inspired idea. Similar to Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch episode, this is an interactive experience which allows ticket holders to select options at five “choose your character” moments throughout the half-hour show. Viewers can pick which singer and song they want to hear next, then sit back and enjoy an intimate live performance filmed just for this production. There’s a fair amount of variety, with the songs covering a range of eras and genres.
It might sound a bit unusual but we’re pleased to confirm it works well. This is due – in spite of the unusual presentation – to the number of conventions that it still adheres to. There’s some cheesy but fun dialogue between each song; there’s an interval at the half way point (which you can skip if you wish); the 11 o’clock number is always the penultimate song of act two; and the grand finale is of course a group number featuring all the singers involved. It comes together nicely as a musical theatre concert.
There are two pricing options available – a single show ticket or an unlimited day pass – and we’d very much recommend the latter. All the performances are strong, but some are truly excellent; for the extra money you’re able to access all 14 singers and rewatch your favourites if you wish. We particularly enjoyed Kayleigh McKnight, Allie Daniel and Kayla Carter, but all of the songs are absolutely worth a listen.
While The Secret Society of Leading Ladies provides us with some really great original content, there are a couple of things we’d have liked to have seen. One performance features a brief appearance from an animated bird – it’s a cute moment, and we wondered whether we may see any more visual flourishes but none were forthcoming. Additionally we were curious to see whether the grand finale was different depending on the route we chose through the show, but it’s the same each time. Neither of these things matter, of course; they’d have just been the icing on what is already a rather delicious cake.
Streaming theatre content will never replicate the experience of a live show, but in the current circumstances, this interactive theatrical delight may well be the next best thing. There’s something more engaging about seeing a show where you have some control over proceedings, and these performances are beautifully captured. We’re desperate to get back to seeing live theatre, but digital shows of this quality will help tide us over in the meantime.
GAY TIMES gives The Secret Society of Leading Ladies – 4/5
More information can be found here.