UPDATE: Due to efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, all Broadway productions are canceled through at least April 12, 2020. All Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions are now canceled as well. If you purchased tickets through broadway.timeout.com, call 1-866-276-4886 for a refund.
When it comes to theater, who says you have to just sit and watch? Immersive theater, which puts you right in the middle of the action—and often draws you in to participate—is increasingly popular in New York City. Whereas most Broadway shows still follow the traditional proscenium-arch model, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions like the long-running Sleep No More and Then She Fell break down the barriers between actors and spectators, letting you follow your own paths in unconventional spaces. To help you navigate the maze of options, here is our list of the city's best immersive and interactive shows.
RECOMMENDED: Best Broadway shows
Immersive Theater in NYC
A New York institution since 2011, Punchdrunk’s dark, sleek, gorgeous installation is awe-inspiring in both its size and detail. Silent audience members in creepy white masks are set free in a six-floor labyrinth of wonders, while roving attractive actor-dancers plays out enigmatic scenes inspired by Macbeth and Hitchcock. There are more than 90 different spaces to explore, ranging from a candy shop to a cemetery. There’s no way to absorb it all in a single visit, but that’s all right. You’ll want to go back anyhow.
Alison S.M. Kobayashi leads us on a journey to another time in her interactive multimedia docuplay, based on real 65-year-old audio recordings of a teenage boy in Queens and his family and neighbors. The experience of the show is light, sweet, funny and dear. But Kobayashi’s deep humanism has a way of moving you, even days later.
Third Rail Projects' interactive psych-ward riff on Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, performed for just 15 people at a time on three floors of a church building in Williamsburg, uses a style similar to that of Sleep No More. But here, when you peer into the looking glass, it stares right back at you; the experiences offered by director-designer Zach Morris and his company are stunningly personal.
In this immersive, site-specific monthly show, the audience is thrust into 10 all new mini-plays unfolding all around them at an Irish bar. A new slate of mostly comic scenes is prepared for each edition. [Not yet reviewed.]
Tom and Betsy Salamon’s unique adventure—part interactive theater, part scavenger hunt, part walking tour—draws participants into an amusing web of puzzles and intrigue. You can choose between the three-hour New York tour, which takes participants through various neighborhoods of lower Manhattan, or the two-hour Village tour, which travels through quirky Greenwich Village on Saturdays. Groups of as many as 11 are booked every half hour.
An actor drinks heavily (in the vein of Comedy Central's Drunk History) and then tries to corral others into enacting a story by the Bard. Bibulous excess is encouraged. [Not yet reviewed.]