New Yorkers are constantly seeking new and interesting ways to be entertained. Enter the realm of "immersive theater" in NYC, which invites participants to explore the theatrical genre, devoid of the fourth wall. The quartet of shows we've rounded up here explores interactive theater in various formats, breaking down barriers between actors and attendees, and using nontraditional venues like multilevel stage sets, the city streets, or even a moving bus. Read on for four immersive theater productions where you'll be invited into the experience rather than just to observe it: each is sure to have you imagining theater in a whole new light.
Sleep No More
Think Eyes Wide Shut, meets haunted house, meets murder-mystery theater, meets Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth, meets film noir, and you might just get the most general gist of this must-be-experienced-to-be-believed theatrical production, from British company Punchdrunk. Trust us, you've never seen anything quite like it. Sleep No More is not a traditional sit-down stage show, but rather a unique, roving, interactive play, where curious, adventurous theater-goers and anguished, agile actors roam freely between a massive multi-floor set. All the world's a stage here, where acts unfold throughout more than 100 meticulously detailed and dimly lit rooms, corridors, and themed spaces.
Queen of the Night
Queen of the Night offers up a whole new meaning to the classic "dinner and a show." Here, participants enter a transporting world hidden away in the subterranean 1930s-era Diamond Horseshoe, beneath the Paramount hotel, where a whirling feast for the senses awaits. Pre-dinner mingling is encouraged in small side rooms where interactive actor encounters unfold in several wildly decorated private chambers. Soon, guests are seated for a communal dining experience in the main lounge, where the included-in-the-rates dinner is surprisingly delectable (with dishes like savory salmon wellington and suckling pig -- not at all an afterthought, as you might expect for a showy venue like this), and the stage show wows (you'll forgive its loose storyline) with some Cirque de Soleil-style acts, scantily clad performers, and moody theatrics. Rest assured, you'll never think of dinner theater the same way again.
Part scavenger hunt, part murder mystery theater, part self-guided walking tour, this innovative take on the "immersive theater" craze has been met by wide critical acclaim since its launch in 2005. The company has hosted upwards of a whopping 150,000 "accomplices" who have signed up to participate in the cloaked-in-mystery yet entirely comedic theatrical experience where the streets of NYC set the stage. Participants can opt-in for one of two variations, including the original Accomplice New York, and the newer Accomplice The Village show. Both are lighthearted, comedic affairs, driven by scavenger-hunt-style clues and crude maps, team-building sleuthing, and loose storylines, all of which all brought to life and tied together by a troupe of improv-trained actors en route.
A huge departure from the city's traditional double-decker tour buses (which most self-respecting New Yorkers wouldn't be caught dead on), "The Ride" delivers a unique take on the tour bus experience, infusing its "ride" through the streets of Manhattan with theatrical flair. Yes, all the world's—or at least Midtown Manhattan is—a stage aboard The Ride, which is more theatrical experience than a tour, and one that really delivers on the laughs. Offering a unique "stage" set on the streets of NYC, guests experience the show from aboard a portable theater, in the form of a technologically tricked-out bus.