5 Unique Interactive Theater Experiences You Can Only Find in NYC
When theater is much more than just seats and a stage.
Typically when you go to the theater, proper etiquette involves sitting down, staying quiet, not snacking, and definitely not yelling at the stage.
But some NYC theatrical experiences are breaking that mold, asking audiences to explore, talk, interact, or even taste their surroundings. Here are five innovative New York shows that will redefine the way you think of a night at the theater.
Sleep No More transports you from New York’s Chelsea neighborhood into an ornate and otherworldly landscape, where you’re required to wear a full-face mask and travel solo. The show is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but you don’t need to be a scholar of the Bard to have an unforgettable time.
Within the multi-floor McKittrick Hotel, you’ll find songstresses, mind-melding cocktails, and ghostly vibes. Once the show begins, you can wander in whatever way you wish, whether that’s following one specific performer, peering into exquisitely designed rooms, or staying in one place and watching the action unfold. Sometimes actors will pull attendees into mysterious rooms for one-on-one interactions behind closed doors — maybe you’ll be the lucky one this time.
The award-winning Then She Fell takes the classic story of Alice In Wonderland and other writings by Lewis Carroll and places it both conceptually and literally within a mental institution. It takes place at The Kingsland Ward at St. John’s, a facility that has been in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood for approximately 100 years. It’s a highly intimate experience, with only 15 audience members admitted for each performance. During your adventure through mysterious hallways and rooms you’ll also be offered elixirs designed by acclaimed mixologists.
For those looking for a more lighthearted (and boozy) time, Drunk Shakespeare will give you a ribald theatrical experience to remind you that you’re not the only one who sometimes has a hard time understanding the Bard. The premise is fairly self-explanatory: a company of actors perform Shakespeare, but one has imbibed a large quantity of liquor. Big spenders are able to purchase a special ticket granting them “king” status, which comes with delicacies like caviar, champagne, and the power to affect what happens in the play.
From Third Rail Projects (the creative minds that brought you Then She Fell), Ghost Light is an immersive show held at the historic Lincoln Center. Most theatergoers are only familiar with what happens on one side of the stage, and this show seeks to introduce you to what lies beyond. You’ll learn theatrical superstitions, uncover the reality beyond the smoke and mirrors, and perhaps encounter some spooky surprises along the way. Comfortable footwear is encouraged, as you won’t be in one place for long at this show.
Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 is based on a portion of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The story is told opera-style, with an ultra creative score blending showtunes, electronica, folk music, and everything in between. Though the show is seated, the staging is totally immersive, with musicians and performers telling the story behind you, in front of you, above you, and all around you. Some attendees might walk away with an actual Russian pierogi or a handwritten love letter.
Needless to say, this play is far from your typical Broadway experience. Sadly, the last performance occurred on September 3, but we encourage you to check out the soundtrack (and hope for a revival)!
These special shows are just a selection of the unique entertainment New York City has to offer. With so much to see, you’re going to want to make your stay a long one. You’re in luck: for trips to NYC, Affinia is offering four nights for the price of three, or three nights for the price of two. Go ahead, stay that extra day — you won’t regret it.