JJ Abrams Faces off With Mentalist Vinny DePonto During ‘Mindplay’ Opening Night – The Hollywood Reporter

The Geffen Playhouse hosted some notable names at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater for the opening night of Vinnie DePanto’s Mindplay. Described as a “love letter to an imperfect mind,” the show is a participatory experience that works as the audience places “anything that’s been weighing on your mind lately,” such as fears, regrets, memories, etc. Slips of paper in sealed envelopes are then dropped into the fishbowl.

Throughout the night, DePonto randomly pulls out envelopes one by one and invites guests on stage for mind-reading exercises. Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (up) received the call and DiPanto shocked guests — without even opening the envelope — that Giacchino zeroed in on a favorite memory of attending Burning Man.

Michael Giacchino and JJ Abrams

Charlie Galle/Getty Images; Charlie Galle/Getty Images

Later, it was Abrams’ turn to join DiPanto at center stage but his segment was interrupted by an elderly female guest who fell down a set of stairs on the way to the stage. When his concentration was interrupted, DePanto invited Abram to return to his seat while he focused on the woman instead (who was fine despite the tumble).

“He’s beautiful, wonderful, right?” Abrams was praised after the screening, as he was joined by Giacchino and veteran cinematographer Larry Fong. “We’re all fans of magic and geeks for a long time so it’s great to see this show. He is amazing. ”

For the record: Abrams’ cover included an afterthought for his late grandfather Harry. Mindplay Runs till December 18.

Pictured during a Vinny DePanto performance

Pictured during a Vinny DePanto performance Mindplay, which he created and directed from a show written by DePanto with Josh Koenigsberg. Andrew Neisler directs with Eva Price managing production duties. The production team then included scenic designer Sybil Wickersheimer, lighting designer Pablo Santiago, sound designer Everett Elton Bradman, costume design consultants Audrey Laster and Sarah Lindsley, creative consultant Enrico de la Vega, dramaturg Amy Levinson, and production stage manager Julie Ann Renfro.

Courtesy of Geffen Playhouse

Pictured during a Vinny DePanto performance

Pictured during a Vinny DePanto performance Mindplay.

Courtesy of Geffen Playhouse

This story first appeared in the Nov. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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