Conference Call: Anthony Logan Cole and Whitney Sprayberry: "The Hidden Ones"
The minute I read the press release for The Hidden Ones, I knew I had to promote it. Written by Anthony Logan Cole (Les Miserables, CURIOSITIES) and Choreographed by Whitney Sprayberry (Jagged Little Pill), The Hidden Ones is a new immersive production that tells the story of how hope can survive turmoil, how passion can thrive in the bleakest of times, and how silence can speak deafening volumes.
Set in a time near the end of World War II, this dance-heavy immersive piece ushers only six audience members per performance on a journey into a secret location, where they are smuggled into a world of true stories of those forced into hiding.
The Hidden Ones brings the audience face to face not only with history, but with stories of raw love and humanity as they observe two families work to overcome extraordinary circumstances in the darkest of times.
After a sold-out run in Brooklyn & Manhattan, The Hidden Ones return to a new secret location, this time in Long Island City (exact location revealed with in 48 hours of performance) from January 17-March 3. Click here for tickets!
1. Your show, The Hidden Ones, is currently enjoying an extended run in Brooklyn. How did you two come together to create this show?
Whitney Sprayberry: Anthony and I met towards the end of my run of Seeing You and I had actually auditioned for him for Curiosities. I've dived deeper into doing choreography lately. I've been posting a lot on social media and letting people know of my new journey. So I think it was that old "the right time/the right place" for us to finally be able to work together on something as magical as The Hidden Ones.
2. Anthony - What was the easiest part of the play to write and what was the most challenging?
Anthony Logan Cole: This show has been my “secret project” for four years. It’s so easy to fall down the rabbit hole of all these true stories. Not just Jewish stories but queer stories, Romani stories, and stories from all walks of life. Each one more powerful and resonant than the last. I felt so much responsibility to tell these stories in the best way possible and honor the experiences of these people. I’m endlessly grateful to the incredible group of artists that help me craft this experience.
3. Whitney - What was your process like to create the choreography for this show?
Whitney Sprayberry: My process for the show was experimental. I did a lot of personal research, including watching videos of Nazi soldiers and the way they moved. I studied a lot of images from that era and tried to bring those ideas into the room. I wanted to do right by anyone and everyone who has connection to our story. Most of my concepts came from the piece itself. Anthony had already created this heart wrenching story and the characters lent themselves to me to be able to evolve and add depth to each story line through movement. The cast was also a massive part of creation. They were always so willing to just go there with me (even if it sounded off the wall). They really poured themselves into this show and I always tried to create a space that made them feel like it was okay to make mistakes. Because for me and what I do, humanity is the reason I create.
4. This play is an immersive experience with only six audience members per show. What made you want to have this kind of set-up?
Anthony Logan Cole: We wanted to create something highly personal. To do that we had to get rid of the proscenium and fully immerse the audience in the sights, smells, taste, and tactile experiences of our world. We found the best way to honor these stories was to build an honest, real, and personal experience. Originally the audience size was 12 people but as we got into dress rehearsals we realized that six was the magic number. I’m very thankful to have such a wonderful team of producers who all agreed that this was the best way to serve the story and the experience.
5. What should audiences know about this show before attending?
Whitney Sprayberry: I believe audiences should be ready to feel all the feels. This show connects all of us and reminds us of the extreme importance of human connection. It's a moment in time where 12 people can go on a journey and come out the other side with a sense of humility and gratitude for one another.
Anthony Logan Cole: This is not a traditional theatrical experience. Come open, come ready to accept what’s being offered to you, and don’t be afraid to connect.
6. We are currently living very dark times...some have compared it to pre-Nazi times. How do you survive and continue to find the passion to work on new projects?
Anthony Logan Cole: This is why we are doing this show right now. There was something in the New York Times this year that 100 Holocaust Survivors die every day in the United States and that close to 40% of young Americans don’t know how many people died during the Holocaust. This has been a rough time for all of us in the arts but art truly can make a difference and touch people in unexpected ways. We come together and channel all of our rage and grief into our work. I’m thankful every day that Whitney Sprayberry came to create this show with me because we have shared similar experiences in our lives.
Whitney Sprayberry: Each day lately lends itself to new darkness. Whether it's personal, political, the list goes on. But we have to believe in our passions and stay true to who we are. Fight the fight. For me, some of my best work comes out of the emotional struggles of my personal path. Art is a sort of therapy for me and it's a way for me to scream into a pillow, punch someone in the face or lay on the floor and sob. Don't let the blonde hair and freckles fool you, I have a black witchy soul and my emotions can pour out at anytime. Eternally grateful for creative outlets. There is always light after every dark.
7. What is an extraordinary circumstance each of you have had to overcome?
Anthony Logan Cole: The past few years has been an exploration of my mental health. Dealing with loss and failure, especially in this industry. For a long time I poured everything into my work but shows close or don’t ever happen. It’s scary when that happens and you realize that you are alone because all you had was the work. Feeling alone in a city like New York, that’s an experience that will never leave me.
Whitney Sprayberry: I have to laugh ahead of time at my answer but the industry we're in is always extreme circumstance. We put it all on the line with the hopes of all our dreams coming true. And for most of us those dreams never really do. I've been very fortunate in my career. However, with that, I've had a lot of lows. A lot. I will never pretend to fully understand the kind of circumstances our characters have or that others endure, but I try to at least be open arms to those who cross my path. Because, if nothing else, we all always have each other and the memories we've made together.
More on Anthony:
Anthony hails from Washington, DC but currently calls New York City his home. He is a creator/director of immersive theatre whose work includes sold out productions CURIOSITIES (Creator/Director), The House (Associate Director), The Seance at Morris Jumel (Creator/Director) and additional work on The Uninvited: Awakening (Immersive Director) and The Alving Estate (Associate Director). He has been seen internationally as well as coast to coast as “Javert” in Les Miserables. International: Jekyll and Hyde (Jekyll/Hyde). Off-Broadway: Frankenstein (Victor Frankenstein), CURIOSITIES (The Professor), Full House: The Musical (Uncle Joey Standby), Song of Solomon, Find The Golden Bird and Honestly Abe. Regional and Tour: Rock Of Ages (Lonny), Beauty and the Beast (Beast), Scarlet Pimpernel (Chauvelin), and The Rocky Horror Show (Eddie/Dr Scott) along with many others. Cole has headlined at the Metropolitan Room, The Duplex, Coronado Playhouse and 54 Below.
More on Whitney:
Whitney Sprayberry is a seasoned professional on the NYC circuit. She was just featured in the world premiere of Jagged Little Pill, a musical based on Alanis Morrisette's 1995 album. The new musical is under direction of Tony Winner Diane Paulus, with book by Diablo Cody, musical arrangements by Tom Kitt, and choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. She was also a cast member in Spider-man "Turn off the Dark" on Broadway directed by Phil McKinnley. Other credits include: assisting Chase Brock on Alice by Heart a new musical by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik (the geniuses behind Spring Awakening), original swing for Seeing You - an immersive show choreographed by Ryan Heffington. She has also been a faculty member at Fordham University for both the Dance and Musical Theater programs and is currently on the faculty at The Institute for American Musical Theater. You can also catch her starring in the music video "Brightside" by Stephanie Carlin.