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Sugar House Journal

‘Welcome to Night Vale’ brings weirdness to Capitol Theatre

Aug 31, 2017 16h35 ● By Jana Klopsch

Cecil Baldwin (Whitney Browne/Wisconsin State Journal)

By Kayla Lien | [email protected]

There were checkerboard costumes, group chants, howls, and strange proverbs being said—everything you don’t expect from a performance at the Capitol Theatre. Fans of Welcome to Night Vale (WTNV) and newcomers alike turned up to see the new live show called “ALL HAIL” in Salt Lake City. 

Simply put, the Welcome to Night Vale podcast is weird. The show is set in the fictional desert community of Night Vale, where things aren’t exactly normal. Time isn’t real and doesn’t pass normally, there are angels (all of which are named Erika) who live with Old Woman Josie, the man everyone assumes is the city sheriff wears a balaclava, miter, cloak and a giant silver star, and speaks through a vocoder. The voice of Night Vale Community Radio is Cecil Palmer (played by Cecil Baldwin), who tells his listeners about what’s going on in town. 

“ALL HAIL” was about the fan-favorite “Glow Cloud,” that lights up in different colors, has the power of mind control and often drops dead animals on the town of Night Vale. The Glow Cloud also happens to be the president of the school board. “ALL HAIL” was held at the Capitol Theatre on July 17.

First, Meg Bashwiner came onto the stage. She is the voice of Deb, a sentient patch of haze, who often comes onto Cecil’s show to advertise for different brands, as well as Deb’s older sister. 

Bashwiner remarked, “I love playing Deb and Caitlyn. I have so much fun learning and doing new accents. My character choice is that all sentient patches of haze have different, strong regional accents.” She’s also the voice of Proverb Lady, who is heard after every episode of WTNV, saying a proverb that isn’t what you expect. For example: “Look to the north. Keep looking. There’s nothing coming from the south.” 

She added, “Reading the proverbs is terrific, they are always such smart, silly, well-crafted jokes.” This time, she opened with one-liners, talking about how performing is the only industry where a bunch of strangers yelling at you isn’t a bad thing. Bashwiner went on to tell a fake story about John T. Utah, who, while standing in the theatre, proclaimed, “There should be exits.”

After Meg left the stage, Jason Webley entertained the crowd with his accordion and guitar, as he sang an open letter to a certain ranch owner about wanting a giraffe, an old lady’s grave he climbed on and the moon. Audience members howled whenever Webley sang the word “moon,” prompted by his mentioning at the start of the show that it would please him to see the crowd howling and turning into wolves. 

“I Made a Promise to the Moon” was played during the “weather,” which is a running theme in each WTNV episode. Whenever Cecil mentions the weather, the podcast plays a song, then returns to the show. After Webley played a few songs, Cecil Baldwin was announced onto the stage amidst a screaming crowd, clad in a checkerboard suit with a bright pink shirt underneath. Following his trademark, “Welcome to Night Vale,” Cecil related the news of the Glow Cloud hovering right above the radio station. 

The show contained live music from Disparition (who played the theme song intro and outro), and lines from Symphony Sanders, the voice of Tamika Flynn, the 16-year-old resident of Night Vale, leader of a book-loving teen militia and destroyer of the malevolent librarians.

Symphony Sanders, who plays Flynn, said, “I love playing Tamika Flynn.  She is a fun, smart and exciting character to play. She is using her mind and the power of her learning to affect change in her community. It’s what connects us as people.” 

She added, “I think it’s important that women and people of color are represented in all types of media—not just movies or television. There are so many talented and creative people out there I hope to inspire others to share their work and pursue their dreams in the creative field.”

The show was high-energy, witty and packed with talent. “ALL HAIL” is touring the U.S. and is then heading to Europe.