Interview with Ryan Carter

Conceived and directed by the Barn Theatre’s Ryan Carter, The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is a digital musical theatre event which allows the viewer to make decisions and control the set list. With 14 performers and a total of 164 possible combinations, The Secret Society of Leading Ladies gives viewers the opportunity to witness some spectacular performances from some of musical theatre’s finest. I caught up with Ryan to find out more.

Can you tell me about The Secret Society of Leading Ladies? 

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is an interactive digital musical theatre concert. Set in a mysterious bunker, we put you in the director’s seat and let you decide which characters to cast in your own concert! It’s like online shopping in a gig.

What was the inspiration behind the show?
Just wanting to do something new! Wanting to reward the audiences that tune in to every live stream, watch every gig, tweet every performer that they’re still supporting them. Fans have been the true driving force of lockdown theatre. A tailor-made concert is a gift to them.

How does it work?
Throughout the event, the characters will make it clear that it’s time to bring in another member of the ‘secret society’. The concert will pause and present you with character ‘tokens’. All you do is click on the one you want, and they’ll be invited in with a short cutscene before taking to the stage to perform a song!

How have you managed to adapt to the past year with moving shows online?
I’ve been working in the ‘digital space’ for about 6 years now, so when every theatre started looking for ideas, I kinda knew it was time to pitch what i’m about to the wider industry, which was tough originally. I’ve happily operated in my own little corner of the industry for a while, being allowed to create in a way that aligns with what i’m about (diversity, progression and innovation) without upsetting those that thrive in the version of the industry that seems to prefer it without those things. So I guess i’m forcing myself to be present and a part of the conversation to make sure that I can adapt ‘with’ the industry. 

What are you most looking forward to when theatres reopen?
I’m hoping that we completely reformat the way theatre works. And that we remember just how lucky we are to have it as an option.

Can you sum up the show in three words?
New, Fun, Stagey!

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is streaming online until 7 March.

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