For our latest mission, seven undercover agents staged a spontaneous musical during lunch at the Trump Tower atrium. The mission was filmed for a segment on The Today Show and includes a cameo from Ann Curry. Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our report below.
The Today Show has featured Improv Everywhere a few times in the past, and this fall they asked if we could create a mission for them that Ann Curry could have a part in. Specifically, they were big fans of Food Court Musical and wanted to work with us to stage something similar. (In the time between the show approaching us and the segment airing, we had the opportunity to produce Grocery Store Musical as well.) The Today Show crew would produce the mission (providing hidden cameras, microphones, and a PA system), and we would be in charge of the creative side.
Agent Brown rehearses with the cast
Once again longtime agents and Gutenberg! The Musical! authors Scott Brown & Anthony King served as our songwriting team. They also both appeared as actors in the musical, along with some senior IE Agents and comedians from The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. We had a rehearsal at a Manhattan studio where Agent Brown taught the song, and Agent King worked on the choreography.
Rehearsing in the space
The night before the mission, we were able to rehearse in our location. The Today Show was able to get permission from Trump Tower to stage the musical in the seating area of their atrium, a popular lunch spot for tourists and people who work in the building.
The incredible tech set up
The Today Show pulled out all the stops, tech wise. The crew set up in a huge storage room just off the atrium. There were seven robotic HD cameras set up in the space, each controlled by a dedicated operator via joystick. An eighth camera filmed the control room for behind-the-scenes shots.
Our camera angles
Zooming in on Agent King
The cameras were extremely well hidden in the space either behind tinted glass or hidden among plants on the balcony above.
We also hid speakers in the plants all around the seating area, so that the song could be amplified live during the mission.
Ann Curry wasn’t able to make it to the rehearsals, so we met her for the first time the morning of the mission. We worked in the back room and taught her the choreography, and Agent Brown helped her learn her part. Ann is not a singer, so she was nervous about getting her line just right. She was super easy to work with and very quickly became one of the team.
Agents in place at the start of the mission
We staged the mission a few times throughout the day to make sure we got the best possible take and camera coverage. The first take started around 12 Noon. We had to wait about a half hour between each take to make sure we had a new group of people dining around us.
Agent Hiller starts the song, “I love lunch / It’s half the way to dinner”
Heads started to turn
Agent Lindquist stands up and declares, “I love lunch!”
A man laughs at Agent Lindquist joining in
Agents Brown and Thomas stand up and join the song
“I like my chili with corn / I like my sandwich served warm”
Agent Hiller runs downstairs in time for his next line
Large crowds of tourists started watching from the balcony
“We’re gonna use our sporks now!”
Sporks (that I “borrowed” from a Taco Bell) held high in the air
“We’re major lunch dorks now!”
Laughing at our choreography
“There ain’t no shame in loving lunch!”
A member of the NYPD interrupts the singers
“You’re singing a song about lunch?”
“I love lunch toooooo!”
I think Agent Santangeli’s performance as the cop fooled the guy above, because he was laughing pretty hard when he figured out he was in on it.
“We all love lunch / We’re gonna sing it louder!”
“I’m eating clam chowder!”
Agent Curry was awesome. She nailed her line and then removed her hat to join the finale (she wore a hat to try to stay incognito lest she be spotted by fans before her part.)
With so many tourists there, it seemed like everyone had a camera
Applauding the finale
After the song ended our agents, including Agent Curry, sat back at their respective tables and continued eating lunch as if nothing had happened.
Telling stories afterwards in the back
We had a blast working on this mission. It was an excellent opportunity to get to work with The Today Show and their fancy equipment, and it was nice to have our work reach their massive television audience. Hopefully along the way we were able to deliver a very important message: There ain’t no shame in loving lunch.
– The Today Show’s segment on this mission:
– Many more photos in higher resolution:
– Agent Sokoler’s Flickr Set
– Agent Nicholson’s Flickr Set
– Our other musicals: Food Court Musical & Grocery Store Musical
– Buy the cast recording of Gutenberg! The Musical, also by Brown & King.
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