What we wouldn’t give to step into the worlds of so many of our favorite books, movies, and TV shows. Hogwarts? Sign me up. Westworld? Yes please. While Big Little Lies‘ version of Monterey, CA is a more realistic – and yet in many ways, just as dangerous – location, there’s just something so captivating about the tangled web of mysteries and rumors that the series weaves. We couldn’t help but draw our own conclusions and try to make sense of what was happening – which is why we were so excited to step into the world of Big Little Lies in a very special way.
Last week, we had the chance to take part in an immersive theatrical experience inspired by the Emmy-nominated limited series. Hosted by HBO Home Entertainment, the evening transformed The Victorian Santa Monica into “New Coast,” a town very similar to Big Little Lies‘ Monterey – and just as mysterious.
But before we get to that… For those not yet in the know, Big Little Lies is a brilliant limited series that aired on HBO earlier this year. Based on the bestselling novel by Liane Moriarty, the darkly comedic tale of murder and mischief follows several mothers of first graders – the main three played by Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley – as they contend with rumors and relationship issues. Oh, and there’s also an overarching murder mystery – which makes the immersive experience all the more apropos.
Let’s set the scene. New Coast’s Homeowner’s Association (HOA) is hosting a benefit to celebrate the opening of their new community clubhouse and raise funds for the Children’s Reading Room. HOA President Bill Rodgers (who is apparently indisposed) has invited you to attend the fabulous event, along with his fellow board members and the host committee. There’s an incredible cheese plate, a bar serving up Big Little Lies-inspired cocktails, and great conversation.
While you eat, you mingle with the board members and host committee – a cast of characters with their own desires and aspirations. The drinks keep flowing. A few of the hosts bring out a guitar and perform several tracks from the brilliant Big Little Lies soundtrack. And then, just as you’re about to head inside for your tour of the clubhouse, all hell breaks loose.
It turns out that Bill isn’t home sick after all. He’s been discovered in serious medical distress upstairs in the clubhouse. The tour proceeds as planned – but as you make your way through the clubhouse and check out the Reading Room, you learn some interesting things about the benefit attendees. Very interesting. It turns out that Bill’s condition may not be a tragic accident after all.
This is the premise of the immersive theatrical event that took our breath away. The Victorian – a gorgeous Victorian (as the name implies) building in Santa Monica – was the perfect stand-in for a well-to-do clubhouse, believably setting the scene for New Coast’s HOA benefit. As we moved through the building, we were treated to so many different interactive performances – from overheard conversations between complicated social climbers to confrontations between secret lovers and confessions of many a secret.
Each character was so complex and well-established, so that in the time between the cocktail hour mixer and the dramatic conclusion of the evening, you really felt like you knew and understood them. Created by Cole Rosner and developed with the whole company for Play Collaborative Arts Venue, the story was truly immersive and enticing. Trying to work out what happened to Bill, whose loyalties lay with whom, and who was at fault for Bill’s eventual death (spoiler alert) wasn’t easy, but it sure was entertaining.
The setting, drama, and intrigue were very in line with the themes of Big Little Lies, but those weren’t the only elements of the evening that kept the show at the forefront of everyone’s minds. The soundtrack was woven into the evening beautifully, from the acoustic performance of several iconic songs from the soundtrack before the clubhouse “tours” began to the score playing in the background to emphasize especially impactful moments. This enhanced the atmosphere and kept the theme of the show strong as the tale of forbidden love, jealousy, and revenge unfolded.
We had an incredible time at this unique event inspired by HBO’s Big Little Lies. Whether you, too, are in love with the series or have yet to check it out, you’re in luck – Big Little Lies is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Download. Pick it up here, and don’t forget to check out the amazing soundtrack on Spotify!
Featured Image: HBO