Interactive Theater

Most Requested Immersive Theater in NYC

At these highly popular, boundary-busting spectacles, audiences get in on the action—literally.

Then She Fell; photo by Adam Jason

One of the fastest growing trends in New York live entertainment is immersive theater. Ever since the 2011 hit Sleep No More allowed masked audiences to, essentially, “choose their own adventure,” theater and production companies have been trying to capture that same thrill of unpredictability and total involvement.

What exactly is immersive theater? First, obviously, it breaks down the barrier between spectator and performer. Like a virtual reality experience, the “drama” is there wherever you look, filling your eyes (and other senses). Some immersive shows create one-on-one moments for individual audience members in close quarters; others encourage you to get lost in a crowd wandering over large distances. And just like traditional theater, some shows are better than others at pulling the audience in.

Which ones do the best job? Below, the What Should We Do?! experience advisers share the immersive productions requested by our members. These are the performances our clients are most excited to see, and the ones they ask for repeatedly.  Not surprisingly, they are also the productions our experts most highly recommend.

Sleep No More

When I think back to when I first saw—no, experienced—this gothic, immersive, choose-your-own-adventure extravaganza, it seems like a weird, vivid dream. Well, it’s a dream from which the city has never awoken. More than six years later, Sleep No More is still drawing crowds of masked strangers to the McKittrick Hotel for a unique mash-up/deconstruction of Psycho, The Shining, Shakespeare’s bloody Macbeth, and other influences. Maybe it’s time you lost some sleep.

KPOP

Don’t know much about the world of Korean pop music? Here’s your crash course. This show bills itself as an immersive event (it boasts a cast of 18) that will give you an all-access backstage pass to a K-pop music factory. The book of this musical is by Jason Kim, a fast-rising talent in playwriting and opera. Did you groove to Psy’s “Gangnam Style” when it was playing everywhere in 2012? Then you have a taste for what to expect. Plus, there’s this eye-catching disclaimer: “This show moves and so will you! All audience members will be standing, walking, climbing stairs, and dancing!” Translation: Wear comfortable shoes.

Drunk Shakespeare

Some of these immersive events will give you a bit of a workout: chasing actors up and down stairs, trekking through warehouses, dancing. Drunk Shakespeare ain’t that. Can you drink? Then you can handle this show. It’s a sozzled and raucous retelling of Macbeth. One of the ensemble’s actors is chosen, at random, to narrate the plot after downing several shots. There’s an interactive element, too: Audience members are selected to play king and queen. As for how immersive it is? Well, the buzzed and highly energized cast dash around the Roy Arias Lounge trading barbs and wisecracks with the audience. It’s probably a little bit like seeing a show at Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre in London, circa 1600. Lots of booze, noise, and unscripted remarks. Not as smelly, though—thank goodness.

Accomplice

For more than a decade, this unique blend of walking tour, mobster murder tale, and scavenger hunt has been delighting audiences with an appetite for mystery and adventure. A small group of about 10 gather in an undisclosed location in Chinatown to follow clues and solve puzzles that lead them into Little Italy and maybe even the Brooklyn Bridge. Along the way, they interact with several eccentric characters, played by actors highly skilled at improvisation. The whole thing takes about three hours and probably engages your imagination and mental abilities more than most theater. What better way to see the city than to get lost?

Broken Bone Bathtub

Actress Siobhan O’Loughlin’s one-woman show is by no means ordinary, even by off-off-Broadway standards. Evolved from the true tale she shared at The Moth—she was in a serious (and hand-fracturing) biking accident after colliding with another cyclist one night in Brooklyn—Bathtub is an exploration of the courage it takes to reach out for help when you feel fragile and hopeless. Performing the entire show while bathing in a tub (real water, real bubbles) could have played like a theatrical novelty trick, but O’Loughlin makes the premise a poignant metaphor for vulnerability.

Then She Fell

As Macbeth is to Sleep No More, so Alice in Wonderland is to this smaller but no less popular event in Williamsburg, which has been running since 2012. Describing itself as “a fully immersive, multisensory experience,” this ingenious installation by Third Rail Projects invites 15 audience members per performance to wander through a dreamscape where every alcove, corner, and corridor has been transformed into a lushly designed world, inspired by the life and writings of Lewis Carroll. Curiouser and curioser!

Get in touch with our experience advisers to see one of these immersive theater shows for yourself. Find out more about our personalized planning and booking service here. Your first month of membership is always free; give us a try!