Bloomington Playwrights Project will premiere “Manhunt II” as an interactive virtual entertainment event starting at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 through30 on a Zoom broadcast.
“We had a lot of people who requested that we keep virtual as a part of our regular seasons, even when we're back to being live again because they enjoyed it so much,” Chad Rabinovitz, Bloomington Playwrights Project producing artistic director, said. “So, we're bringing back an audience favorite, but a new version of it.”
“Manhunt II” follows the events of last year’s production of “Manhunt.” However, Rabinovitz said people do not need to have watched the first show to enjoy “Manhunt II.”
The story starts with Head National Detective Malcolm Hughes being kidnapped, and the audience works to decipher clues and save Detective Hughes.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project has been conducting live virtual shows with an interactive element. “Manhunt II” concludes the project’s “In the Box Entertainment,” a series of live virtual shows that send patrons boxes and envelopes to participate.
For this show, patrons will be sent dossiers containing different clues through puzzles and activities that will go along with the live performance. Audience members can play along with the story at home by solving these puzzles before a timer runs out.
While this show is streamed through Zoom, Rabinovitz said the quality is comparable to television. Bloomington Playwrights Project is using live green screen backgrounds, video graphic overlays, developed sound and lighting effects.
The project ended up licensing “In the Box Entertainment” to 25 other theaters across the country, Rabinovitz said. Bloomington Playwrights Project performed “Manhunt” and their other virtual interactive shows in 38 states for thousands of people, which is double the amount of people they would perform for in a regular season.
As the only cast member, Mike Nappi plays the agent in this production. His character guides the story along and leads the audience through the clues. He said the main difference between doing a virtual and in-person show is not being able to hear the instant feedback from the audience.
“I've been an audience member for a few of these and I saw the original ‘Manhunt,’” Nappi said. “It's awesome because you know you can be in the comfort of your own home, invite some friends over for some wine, get some snacks and watch this hybrid of film and theater that’s just such a really innovative and cool concept that really works.”
Tickets are being sold at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater Box Office for $25. A Zoom link will be sent out about a week before the show, and the dossier of clues will ship the day after the ticket purchase.
According to the Bloomington Playwrights Project’s website, tickets purchased less than five business days in advance of the show will not be guaranteed to receive their dossier of clues in time for the show.