Gotta Share The Musical


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Song by Scott Brown and Anthony King | Edited by Nathan Russell

For our latest mission, a musical breaks out at the GEL Conference in New York. A speaker is suddenly interrupted by a man who refuses to turn off his cell phone. This is the fourth in our series of Spontaneous Musical projects. Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our report below.

Shot by: Keith Haskel, Georgia Hilton, Kristopher Knight, Nathan Russell, Andrew Flynn Soltys, Charlie Todd, Angel Yau
Photography: Katie Sokoler (Flickr Set), Gene Driskell
Starring: (in order of appearance) Michael Kayne, Corey Johnson, Megan Maes, Kevin R. Free, Amy Heidt, Lauren Adams, John Flynn
Chorus: Ari Scott, Cody Lindquist, Winston Noel, Kerry McGuire, Ashley Harrell, Anthony King, Scott Brown, Mark Sam Rosenthal, Dimon Hunter, Will Storie, Seth Shelden, Kirk Damato, Justin Purnell, Venessa Diaz, Gerard Haitz, Steve Dressler, Jeremy Bent, Todd Simmons, Lindsey Sproul, Lauren Reeves, Milo Finch, Big Rich Armstead, Johnathan Fernandez, Jaime Linn, Evan Greenspoon, Lydia Hensler, Jaime Skinner, Natalie Neckyfarow, Cassandra Taylor

I’ve been involved with the Gel Conference since speaking there in 2005. Gel is an annual conference exploring good experience in all its forms – in art, business, technology, society, and life. There are always fabulous speakers, and it’s always a great time. This year, I asked founder Mark Hurst if he’d be open to Improv Everywhere staging a surprise musical at Gel. He immediately agreed.


Agent Brown working with the cast

The first step was to create the song, and as usual I turned to the wonderfully talented Scott Brown and Anthony King. We brainstormed over lunch and decided a song that parodied social media oversharing would be a great fit for the audience we’d have at the conference.


Rehearsing with the seven principle cast members at the UCB Theatre


Dress rehearsal the day before

We were lucky enough to have access to the venue, The Times Center, the day before the conference to do a dress rehearsal. Producing these musicals typically requires expensive audio and hidden camera equipment, but since this took place in a theatre, the audio equipment was already in place and the conference was already arranged to be filmed. We supplemented the conference cameras with a team of five discreet cameramen in the audience.

The stakes were high for this musical, as we only had one shot. For our past three musicals, we were able to stage them multiple times throughout the day with a new audience each time. We would only have one chance to surprise the conference audience. If an actor forgot a cue or a microphone failed to work, there would be no second chance to fix it.


Agent Free hams it up in rehearsal

We had one final rehearsal at a studio near the conference the day of the mission.

We had a 29-member chorus, and I encouraged them to make fun character choices. We had a priest, a doctor, a construction worker, a bike messenger, and a new mother, among others.

Finally, it was time to make it happen. Agent Hurst introduced Agent Kayne who began to do a fake presentation on a fake new social media service, twirlr.


Agent Johnson interrupts


Agent Maes


Agent Free


Agent Heidt


Audience members laughing
(yes that’s the Internet’s Matt Haughey and Anil Dash)

Agent Kayne acted like the musical outburst was as much a surprise to him as it was to anyone else, looking on in disbelief. Then he brought the house down when he started singing as well.

For the finale, the actors all joined Agent Kayne on stage as our 29-member chorus suddenly streamed down both of the aisles.

After the song ended, the entire cast filed out of the theatre matter-of-factly, checking their mobile devices.


Agent Fernandez and Agent Finch leaving the theatre

I was especially excited to have Agent Finch from Ghosts of Pasha in the cast. He hilariously dressed like a Best Buy employee with a fake yellow name tag.

After the cast left, Agent Kayne was alone on stage. He announced his time was up and got another round of applause as the audience realized “twirlr” was completely fake.

Mission Accomplished


OTHER RESOURCES:

If you’d like to hire us to stage a surprise musical prank at your conference, please get in touch!

– Many more photos in higher resolution: Agent Sokoler’s Flickr Set
– Our first musical: Food Court Musical
– Our second musical: Grocery Story Musical
– Our third musical: I Love Lunch! The Musical
– Buy the original cast recording of Gutenberg! The Musical, also by Brown & King.

If this is your first time here:
-our over 100 other missions can be seen here: Missions
-sign up for our RSS feed and Newsletter
-Subscribe to our YouTube channel, twitter, and Facebook page.
-We have a book for sale!

Comments

comments

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53 Responses to Gotta Share The Musical

  1. Tommy says:

    Great job! I liked these musicals a lot!

    Twirlr xD.

  2. Matt Haughey says:

    Nice one Charlie and the gang!

    Being that I was in that room, it was pretty great and there was a good 30 seconds or so before I realized what was going on (and we didn’t even find out it was a real IE prank until the end). The video feels like it naturally edits out a lot of the dead “what the hell?” time in the room but we were all kind of astonished (I rolled my eyes and said “ugh” when I saw the name Twirlr come up as it seemed really believable) and then all kind of amused by the song, then when the aisles filled with singers it was a total spectacle.

    • Charlie says:

      Thanks Matt! I love that we got a photo of you and Anil. I was bummed I didn’t get to hang out with you more at GEL, but most of my GEL was sneaking around behind-the-scenes and rehearsing this.

  3. Jenn says:

    Awesome! Your musical missions are definitely my favourite :)

  4. @LindseyNagy says:

    Indeed, more IE awesomeness. Way to keep the creative juices flow’n, Charlie! – LSN

  5. Wow – absolutely hilarious as always.

  6. Eli says:

    As always, simply wonderful! I really didn’t see Agent Kayne as being a part of it! The name “Twirlr” seems totally believable as another product starting with ‘tw’ entering the market. I really enjoyed the lyrics in the song as well– you made use of a ton of social media sites!

  7. Daniel says:

    Hey guys, nice surprise musical :D Was the music playing in the theatre or was it added later in editing?

  8. jakudo says:

    Your musicals are every time great but this one was probably the greatest:) I just love that song. You should make some CD of your songs:)

  9. Katie says:

    Hilarious and oh-so-relevant to today’s world. Fantastic!

  10. So good. Love these spontaneous musicals. Well done to everyone involved, looks like you all had a fantastic time.

  11. Andrew Kennedy says:

    That was excellent! I am very impressed by Agent Kayne’s acting, he looked genuinely taken aback and at a loss at the interruption (I even felt embarrassed for him), making it that much better when he joined in. =) Very well executed. =D

  12. Awesome! , but Twirlr?! :) LOL

    • Kevin P says:

      I kind of wanted to hear more about Twirlr. Maybe it’s a web site that generates songs by analyzing Twitter?

      Someone get on that.

  13. Nodoka says:

    Great!! But it seems an apple advertisement… xD

  14. Wayne _ says:

    Woke up at 635a today for work, and after a few bouts with my Monday morning usual routines I was very excited to see an email from you guys about a new mission! Especially a musical
    mission – just what I needed today! You guys never fail to give me a lil lift…ty!!!!

  15. Agent Garrett says:

    Loved it! Thank you!!!

  16. Mike says:

    Kind of hurt I wasn’t invited to this conference, being that I live in NY haha. Maybe next time!

  17. Red says:

    I first I thought that it was really rude to interrupt a speaker. Then a few seconds into the video, I really thought twirlr was real and it was a tie-in of sorts. Last thing you know, I was almost in tears in laughter. Nice one!

    Like most here, I really love your musical improvs! Try doing that at the TED next time :D

  18. Oscar says:

    Encore!!! Encore!!!! I love these so much!!! XD

  19. BDB says:

    Love IE’s stuff, but I don’t really see much going on that’s either improv or spontaneous. Clearly, this whole thing was meticulously planned. I like the earlier poster’s term of “surprise musical” better. Much more accurate.

  20. YK says:

    Any chance the soundtrack of this one will be released?