Nerdist and Legendary Digital Networks’ streaming service, Alpha, have commissioned a new sci-fi series starring Yuri Lowenthal, which will be performed and streamed live to audiences each week, Variety has learned exclusively.
The show, entitled “Orbital Redux,” will stream eight episodes weekly beginning Sept. 27.
“We are always looking for new challenges and ways to change up the narrative, and this project combines these elements, aligning with Alpha’s mission to immerse members in our content and give them an experience they can’t get anywhere else,” says Johnny Wickham, vice president of development, Legendary Digital Networks.
“Orbital Redux” follows Lowenthal’s Zachery “Max” Levodolinksy, who is described as “a former astronaut navigating life after NASA runs out of funding, removing all the thrilling, heroic jobs.” The story picks up when Max is tasked with teaching a new pilot (Yasmine Al-Bustami) the ropes of the space program. Though initially they are at odds, as the new hire is there to replace Max, the pair must later combine forces for survival when a redux fails.
In addition to watching the astronauts navigate their apocalyptic circumstances, viewers can participate via the show’s live formula, which allows them to vote on potential plot twists, like characters’ decisions and hurtles, for the actors to then perform in real time.
“When it comes to entertainment, you don’t get to unleash a first very often,” said writer-director Steven Calcote of Butcher Bird Studios. “We’re not just thrusting viewers into the middle of a cinematic spaceship adventure series, we’re streaming it live. That means live performances, live special effects, live cinematography, live sci-fi. It’s a high-wire act that our audience won’t experience anywhere else.”
Producer Lillian Diaz-Przybyl added, “This is a project that ties together the latest, most dynamic live digital experiences: multiple cameras on an immersive spaceship set, a live musical score, and audience participation and interactivity. But in order to achieve that, we also harken back to time-tested traditions of early television and the ancient art of live theatrical performance. The very core of ‘Orbital Redux’ is in how we are reaching for an exciting new future while being solidly grounded in the reality and teachings of the past.”
Lowenthal also jumped at the opportunity to flex his acting muscles by giving himself to the will of the audience.
“When Steven pitched me the show, I said ‘yes’ before he even made it 10 seconds in,” the actor said. “How often does an actor get a chance to do a play, on a spaceship, that the entire world can be watching live? I’ve been doing this a long time, and this is the first time I’ve ever had a chance to do something quite like this. Actually, I’ve never heard of anything quite like this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m bloody terrified, but I always try to say ‘yes’ to the projects that scare me.”
“Orbital Redux” comes from Nerdist, Alpha and Butcher Bird Studios.
Watch a fictional recruitment video for the company within “Orbital Redux” below:
Pictured: Yuri Lowenthal