Popular podcast show hits OKC on tour 

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One of America’s most popular podcasts brings its live show to Rose State College next week.

Welcome to Night Vale, a hugely successful, twice-monthly podcast performed in the style of community radio updates, goes live 8 p.m. Nov. 6 at Rose State College’s Hudiburg Chevrolet Center Theatre.

Night Vale, located “somewhere in the Southwestern United States,” is a place where all those conspiracy theories you read about on the Internet are true.

The town’s nightly radio updates feature reports from the Sheriff’s Secret Police and warnings about puzzling lights in the night sky and shadowy characters in hoods mixed in with local weather and cultural happenings.

Created in 2012 by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, Night Vale has been described as Lake Wobegon dispatches translated through a Stephen King-like filter.

An atmospheric, geek-friendly horror/comedy, Night Vale is full of players with a theater background, so live performances of the creators’ popular podcast will feel like a natural progression to many. It took only a year after its creation for the podcast to morph into a live act, and the live tours have taken the troupe back and forth across the States and to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, selling out multiple venues along the way.

The live performances immediately increased the show’s popularity and helped propel Night Vale into becoming iTunes’ most downloaded podcast in 2013.

It also spawned a novel of the same name, released earlier this month.

When the book became available for pre-purchase in March, it almost immediately shot to No. 2 on Amazon’s best-seller list.

Meg Bashwiner, the voice of the Proverb Lady listeners hear at the end of each show, said Night Vale’s initial popularity might have had as much to do with its format as its quality.

“I think because it was a fictional podcast, right away, that separated it,” Bashwiner, a writer and performer living in New York City, told Oklahoma Gazette. “Early on, it was one of the very few fictional podcasts that were out there. But that storytelling is what really draws people to it. That connection has kept them there, and it’s had a real snowball effect. Certain people are really, really getting into it.”

The cast’s theater training might be a huge part of why the show connects so well with audiences.

Bashwiner, like the rest of the main players, has stage experience. She’s quick to praise her fellow actors. Cecil Baldwin is the voice of Cecil Gershwin Palmer, Night Vale’s host, main character and narrator, and is responsible for holding a room for 90 minutes with minimal stage distractions.

Bashwiner said he has mastered it.

“The cast, every one of them, is exceptional,” she said. “Cecil is one of the better actors I’ve ever seen. He holds the room for an hour and a half just talking into a microphone, and he’s got them. That’s an incredible talent. It’s like watching a master class.”

As for the rigors of the road, Bashwiner said traveling with grown-ups really helps.

“The cast are all super solid people on the road,” she said and sounded almost relieved. “They take care of themselves, they pack light, they listen. The road is tough. You’re away from your family and away from the comforts of home, so it’s hard. But I also get to see a lot of great places and meet a lot of different people. I also get to see what this does for us and our fans, and it’s great to grow and learn from these experiences. Maybe ask me this question again though, once we’re in our twentieth city.”

Fans of more standard theater performances should also find plenty to love about Welcome to Night Vale, according to Bashwiner.

“It’s interesting in the sense that our structure isn’t a big production. We’re much more stripped down, much more like New York theater. But it’s still very lively and exciting, just without a lot of bells and whistles,” she said. “There are really good jokes, really good storytelling, and really fun musical acts. You get live music, comedy, drama. People who listen to the podcast get to interact with a community of other listeners. It’s really a full night of theater.”

For more information about the Nov. 6 show, visit rose.edu.


Print Headline: Welcome Night, A paranoid, conspiracy-filled small town comes alive in Welcome to Night Vale’s tour, which comes to Rose State College next week.

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Jack Fowler

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