Press Release:​ Sleep Squad

South Coast Repertory Partners With Story Pirates on Sleep Squad An Immersive Bedtime Adventure for Kids

COSTA MESA, Calif. (Jan. ​4, 202​1)—South Coast Repertory (Artistic Director David Ivers; Managing Director Paula Tomei) has partnered with The Story Pirates and Tony Award-winning producer Eva Price for Sleep Squad—a family-friendly, interactive, virtual theatre experience that turns your home into a rocket ship to launch kids into their dreams. Starring Tony Award-nominee Lilli Cooper (SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, Tootsie) and featuring brand new, unique, kid-driven comedy and music that you can’t see or hear anywhere else, this world premiere, on-demand production creates a new kind of bedtime ritual for kids age 4-12. Sleep Squad is available to stream on-demand from Feb. 1-14. Streaming Family Pass tickets are available to pre-order now through SCR’s website: https://bit.ly/3nR2iBg. A portion of the ticket price directly benefits SCR.

In Sleep Squad, Lilli Cooper portrays the Dream Queen, who guides adventurers through three different, enchanting virtual experiences, adapted from stories written by real kids. These include a visit to a desert island (Stuck Island), a dinosaur’s birthday party (Spinosaurus’ Birthday) and an intergalactic nightclub (30 Moons) and allow kids to take ownership of imagination-powered storytelling. Sleep Squad concludes with soothing music that will help lull adventurers to sleep.

“We’re excited to partner with The Story Pirates and Eva Price on this innovative, theatrical adventure for kids,” said Artistic Director David Ivers. “Sleep Squad offers kids an immersive storytelling experience that engages their imaginations, helps them settle down to sleep and gives them the tools to record their dreams. As a parent, I can identify with how challenging bedtime can be. Sleep Squad, and its nightly routine, will have kids looking forward to going to sleep.”

Parents and reviewers have been raving about Sleep Squad since its launch in late November. Review Wire recommended it as a “‘stellar’ new bedtime ritual for the whole fam!” and Motherhood Later remarked, “The best part was watching the smile on my son’s face as he listened to the stories, paused to write in his sleep journal, and watched the stars dancing on the walls of his room.” And The New York Times theatre critic Alexis Soloski remarked that her kids enjoyed creating their own stories behind their sleep masks. She added, “This is the first time in 20 years of theater criticism that I can unashamedly make this claim: The show put me to sleep.”

The Story Pirates, one of the Sleep Squad producers, “believe that kids are creative geniuses. All of them.” Winner of the 2020 iHeartRadio award and the 2020 Webby Award for Best Kids and Family Podcast, Story Pirates Podcast is one of the top three kids and family podcasts in the world. Downloaded more than 25 million times, and featuring songs and sketches based on stories written by kids, their special guests include top talent like Billy Eichner, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dax Shepard, Amber Ruffin, Bowen Yang, Claire Danes, John Oliver and Lake Bell. The Pirates have released three critically acclaimed middle-grade books with Penguin Random House and three award-winning albums, all based on ideas from kids around the world.

Sleep Squad is produced by The Story Pirates and Tony Award-winning producer Eva Price (Oklahoma!, Jagged Little Pill). It is created and directed by Olivier Award nominee Jennifer Weber (& Juliet) and Drama Desk nominee Lee Overtree (Artistic Director, The Story Pirates). See below for full Sleep Squad creative team bios.

Families may order Sleep Squad two ways, and watch as many times during the Feb. 1-14 steaming window:

  • Video Only: $35
  • Video + a Dreamtime Kit: $50. The kit is shipped directly to purchasers and includes a dream journal, a sleep mask, stickers and a star globe nightlight. Recommendation: order early to allow time for shipping the kit.

Complete information is available online: https://bit.ly/3nR2iBg

This partnership offering is part of SCR commUNITY, the theatre’s new digital storytelling platform.


THE CREATIVE TEAM BEHIND SLEEP SQUAD

Story Pirates (Producer) believe that kids are creative geniuses. All of them. Winner of the 2020 iHeartRadio award and the 2020 Webby Award for Best Kids and Family Podcast, Story Pirates Podcast is one of the top three kids and family podcasts in the world. Downloaded over 25 million times and featuring songs and sketches based on stories written by kids, their special guests include top talent like Billy Eichner, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dax Shepard, Amber Ruffin, Bowen Yang, Claire Danes, John Oliver and Lake Bell. The Pirates have released three critically acclaimed middle-grade books with Penguin Random House and three award-winning albums, all based on ideas from kids around the world. The Creator Club, their new subscription service, features virtual learning activities, live-streamed classes, a daily radio show, and videos to entertain and encourage creativity for kids at home.

Lilli Cooper (“Dream Queen”) has been featured in Tootsie (Tony Award nomination), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical, Wicked (Elphaba) Spring Awakening (original Broadway cast). Theatre favorites: Mack And Mabel (City Center Encores!), Tick, Tick...Boom! (Keen Company) Sundown, Yellow Moon (The WP), The Wildness (Ars Nova), Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of1812 (American Repertory Theater), The Threepenny Opera (Atlantic Theater). Television: “Dynasty” (The CW), “Bull,” “Instinct,” “Elementary,” “The Code” andThe Good Fight” (CBS). She is a proud LaGuardia Arts High School and Vassar alumna. Lillicooper.com

Lee Overtree (Co-Creator/Co-Director) is co-founder and creative director of The Story Pirates and is the producer and co-host of “The Story Pirates Podcast” from Gimlet Media/Spotify, winner of the 2020 Webby and iHeartRadio award for Best Kids and Family Podcast. Along with co-writer Hunter Bell, he received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Book of a Musical for Found at the Atlantic Theater Company. Overtree has directed at the Williamstown Theater Festival, Center Theater Group, the Philadelphia Theatre Company, New York Stage & Film, the American Music Theater Project, Goodspeed Musicals, the Kennedy Center, the Geffen Playhouse, Berkshire Theater Group, the Mystic Aquarium, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. He has taught at the Atlantic Acting School and has served on the faculty of the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Center. Overtree is an alumnus of Northwestern University and member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers union.

Jennifer Weber (Co-Creator, Co-Director) is an Olivier Award-nominated choreographer based in New York City. She recently made her West End debut with & Juliet (Olivier Award Nominee, Whatsonstage Award nominee), a new musical featuring the songs of pop songwriter, Max Martin which opened at the Shaftesbury Theater in London Fall 2019. Weber recently choreographed, Disney’s Zombies 2, which was released on the Disney Channel in Feb 2020. Weber was commissioned by New York City Center to create a new work for New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck and hip-hop legend Lil Buck for the 2018 Fall for Dance Festival. This piece will be featured in the upcoming live capture A New Stage, produced by CLI Studios. Her concert dance work has been performed at Jacob’s Pillow, The Apollo, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, London’s Southbank Center and The Stanislavsky Music Theatre, Moscow. Theatre choreography credits include KPOP (Ars Nova/Lortel Nom), Teenage Dick (The Public/Ma-Yi) Cruel Intentions (LPR/U.S. Tour), Stockholm (Hudson Stage). Commercial direction/choreography: Marc Jacobs, CK2, American Express, Uber, Ulta, L’Oreal, Reebok, Philosophy and Lifetime’s Bring It Live! Tour (2016-18). Weber is the co-creator, director and choreographer of the annual hit holiday show, The Hip-Hop Nutcracker. jenniferwebernyc.com.

Andrew Farmer (Writer) is a disabled writer/performer and comedian based in Los Angeles. He's a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Grant (2018) and his work has been produced at The Museum of Modern Art, Ars Nova, Playwrights Horizons Downtown, Joe’s Pub, The Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Walker Space, Theater Aspen and Yale School of Drama. He has developed television projects with CBS Studios, Stampede Ventures, Animal Kingdom, Imperative Entertainment and First Look Media. Alongside “Saturday Night Live” writer, Anna Drezen, he is the co-host of the comedy/horror podcast, Scary Stories to Tell on the Pod, produced by the Forever Dog Network. Currently, he’s the head writer of National Lampoon’s reboot of the legendary off- Broadway sketch show, Lemmings: 21st Century and is also developing a new immersive audio experience for Story Pirates. Recent plays include The Gray Man (FGP, HERE Arts, Pipeline Theatre Company), The Fall of Hotel Mudafier to the Toltecs (Williamstown Theatre Festival), and I Heard Sex Noises, written with Claire Rothrock, Ryann Weir and Annie Tippe (Ars Nova). With composer/lyricist Andrew R. Butler, he has written book for American Cryptids (Joe’s Pub, The Civilians R&D Group), Finn The Fearless (Ars Nova, Theater Aspen, The Polyphone Festival), BLESSING (commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, Yale Institute for Music Theatre) and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (commissioned by TheatreworksUSA).

Eva Price (Producer) is an NYCLU/ACLU honoree for her commitment to works spearheaded by female creatives and people of color and a Crain’s 2020 Notable LGBTQ Leaders and Executives Honoree. Broadway credits include Jagged Little Pill, Oklahoma! (two Tony Awards); Tina—The Tina Turner Musical; What the Constitution Means to Me (Tony Award nomination, national tour 2020); Angels in America (Tony Award); Dear Evan Hansen (Tony Award); On Your Feet!; Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on Broadway!; Peter and the Starcatcher (five Tony Awards); Colin Quinn Long Story Short; Annie; The Merchant of Venice (Tony Award nomination); Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking; The Addams Family. Off-Broadway/touring include Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical; Found (Atlantic Theater Company); The Lion (Drama Desk Award); Small Mouth Sounds; and The Hip-Hop Nutcracker with rap icon Kurtis Blow. Executive Producer of MEP, a producing, developing and management company she founded in 2006; and a producer with the new entertainment studio venture, Level Forward.

Benjamin Salka (Producer) is the co-founder and CEO of Story Pirates, a media company that celebrates the imaginations of kids. Under his leadership, Story Pirates has grown from a pilot program in a single school auditorium to an internationally renowned family entertainment brand. At age 23, he directed the off- Broadway production of I Sing! (recent productions in Australia, London and Glasgow). He began assistant-directing and producing on- and off-Broadway at theatres such as The Roundabout, MTC and The Atlantic Theater. Highlights include The Dazzle (Outer Critics Circle Award, assistant director to David Warren) and The Goat (Tony Award, assistant producer Scott Rudin). In film, he assisted Rudin on the Oscar-nominated The Hours, and Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM, on the Oscar-nominated Seabiscuit. He was associate director to David Warren on Mindy Kaling and Branda Withers' breakout comedy, Matt and Ben. With Eva Price and Victoria Lang, he is a producer of FOUND, a musical based on Davy Rothbart's popular magazines and books. He directed the long-running stage show Creation Nation, with Billy Eichner and Robin Lord Taylor, and contributed to Billy Eichner’s Billy on the Street.

Ellen Winter (Composer) is a performer, composer, and teaching artist from the woods of Fairfax, Va., currently based in Brooklyn. In 2017, she and writing partner, Chris Littler, co-directed/wrote/composed “36 Questions,” the podcast musical, starring Jonathan Groff and Jessie Shelton. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, Playbill and Marie Claire. Residencies include Ars Nova's Maker's Lab, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Drop Forge and Tool, and Barn Arts Collective. Since 2018, she has performed and written songs with Story Pirates for their Gimlet podcast. She also is 1/5 of nerd-rock group, Chamber Band, and together they have three albums and national tours under their belts. Her debut album, Every Feeling I've Ever Felt, dropped in 2020. @itsellenwinter and ellenwintermakesthings.com

Mahayla Laurence (Co-Writer) is an actor and a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She is a natural-born empath and loves connecting with humans through all forms of art and storytelling. She writes for Story Pirates Podcast and for SHIZ, a Broadway-Meet-Sketch-Comedy show. Laurence also co-founded a comedy residency at Ars Nova called CAMP. Theatre credits include: Romeo & Juliet (Smith Street Stage), Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the 'Burg), Neptune and Three Sisters (Columbia School of the Arts), Hamlet (Shakespeare in the Square NYU), Julius Caesar (Stella Adler Outreach Tour), and Safety Net (Tisch StageWorks). She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a recipient of the Beth Turner Award. While there, she was a director and performer for Hammerkatz Sketch Comedy and Dangerbox Improv.

Mike Cabellon (Co-Writer) is currently a writer/producer for Story Pirates podcast and is next set to star in “Mr. Mayor,” coming to NBC in 2021. Other notable TV appearances include “Orange Is the New Black,” “Crashing” and “High Maintenance.” He has written, produced and starred in digital shorts that have won awards at the New York Television Festival and SeriesFest; and aired on Comedy Central, Adult Swim, FunnyOrDie and more. As an improviser and sketch performer, Cabellon has performed on stages all over the country, including the Del Close Marathon, Comedy Hack Day, Austin Sketch Fest, Frigid Fest (part of the U.S. Association of Fringe Festivals), UCB's 3x3 Tournament, NYC Improv Festival, and SHRTWV Short Theater Festival.


ABOUT SOUTH COAST REPERTORY: Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964, is led by Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei. SCR is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern plays and musicals, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program—The Lab@SCR—which includes one of the nation’s largest commissioning programs for emerging, mid-career and established writers and composers. Of SCR’s 534 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new-play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, Calif., SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. www.scr.org