Step into 1880s Paris with “A Night at the Opera,” an interactive theater experience where “The Phantom of the Opera” comes to life. The immersive show opens at the Santa Monica Bay Woman's Club, Friday, Aug. 4.
Manhattan Beach native Erik Geffner-Mihlsten and his siblings, Alena and Alex, formed the entertainment company, Into the Film, to invite an audience to “live their favorite films.”
“The moment you walk in, you're in that world,” said Geffner-Mihlsten. “There are things that will be happening concurrently while you're solving puzzles and exploring the sets or having a drink at the bar or having a crepe … It's really what you make of it.”
Sets were designed to recreate the world of “Phantom,” while guests have live interactions with actors portraying characters from the classic film. Period custom or opera attire is recommended for the experience, but is not a requirement. The evening concludes with a screening of the 1925 silent classic staring Lon Chaney.
“We picked a movie we think is a timeless story and one people love,” Geffner-Mihlsten said. “For me, I loved musicals when I was a kid. I saw it on Broadway. This is a story people know whether they've seen the 1925 version, read the book, or seen the 1986 musical from Andrew Lloyd Weber, or the 2004 movie. People know 'Phantom of the Opera.'”
Geffner-Mihlsten said he and his siblings are “huge cinephiles,” thanks to their parents, Nola and George, who have lived in Manhattan Beach for many years.
“We can quote movies, that's a conversation for us,” he said.
The siblings began researching immersive experiences around the country, from murder mysteries to escape rooms to haunted houses, about a year ago. Geffner-Mihlsten said the event has been a grassroots effort with the help of Katie Kildahl (associate producer, production manager), director Andrea Ruffalo, sound designer Ed Holland and Richard Holland (creative director). Holland has been the art director for such films as “The Princess Bride” and “Batman & Robin.” Manhattan Beach's Mark Sonnenblick also helped with developing the experience and story line.
“It's been a team of people. It wasn't created over night,” Geffner-Mihlsten said.
Geffner-Mihlsten said not every attendee will have the same experience.
“One of the big things is we really wanted to make this for a broader audience … We know not everybody will want to do everything,” he said. “Everyone will have different stories to tell.”
Geffner-Mihlsten said they hope to expand and are considering future projects such as bringing the world of “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones” to life.
“We have so many ideas of things we can do,” he said. “There are so many movies and options we can go to to create those worlds that have never been done before. You watch the movies over and over again and think, 'Man, that would be really cool to be there and take part of that.' We're letting you do that.”
The event takes place Friday, Aug. 4, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 5, at 6:30 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 11, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 13, at 6:30 p.m.
The Santa Monica Bay Woman's Club is located at 1210 4th Street.