The best immersive theater in NYC

Throw yourself into the best immersive plays and interactive theatrical experiences on Broadway and beyond.
Sleep No More
Photograph: Courtesy Yaniv Schulman Sleep No More
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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

1
Sleep No More
Photograph: Courtesy Alick Crossley
Theater, Interactive

Sleep No More

icon-location-pin McKittrick Hotel, Chelsea
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Open run

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.

2
Say Something Bunny!
Photograph: Courtesy Henry Chan Jr.
Theater

Say Something Bunny!

icon-location-pin UNDO Project Space, Chelsea
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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.

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3
The Jungle
Photograph: Courtesy Marc Brenner
Theater, Drama

The Jungle

icon-location-pin St. Ann's Warehouse, DUMBO
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Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s nearly three-hour immersive play is based on their stint as volunteers with refugees in Calais, France, who were hoping to cross the Channel into England. It’s not artful as a piece of drama; rather, it’s a deliberate cacophony of voices. Co-directors Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin insist on roars of disapproval and protest at every turn. The play wants you to feel, for a moment, what it’s like to live each moment at a crisis point. It's impressive and at times virtuosic.—Helen Shaw

4
Then She Fell
Photograph: Courtesy Chad Heird
Theater, Interactive

Then She Fell

icon-location-pin Kingsland Ward, Williamsburg
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Open run

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.

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5
Once on This Island
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus
Theater, Musicals

Once on This Island

icon-location-pin Circle in the Square , Midtown West
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This imaginative Broadway revival of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s 1990 musical is constantly on the move to a steady throb of pop-Caribbean beats. Telling the story of a naive orphan who embarks on a forbidden romance with a boy above her station, Michael Arden’s immersive production sings, dances and conjures up a storm.

6
Arcade Amerikana
Photograph: Courtesy Joshua Aronson
Theater, Interactive

Arcade Amerikana

icon-location-pin Industry City, Greenwood
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Spectators are bombarded with images from all sides in this ambitious immersive multimedia piece, devised by the performance collective Arcade and performed within a 360-degree projection cube. Set at a recovery center for people struggling with virtual addictions in a dystopian very-near future, the show draws inspiration from cultural theory as it investigates the impact of technology on our senses of ourselves, with special attention to queer identities. Lio Mehiel directs the ravey production. [Not yet reviewed.]

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7
shadowplay
Photograph: Courtesy Ze’ Castle
Theater, Interactive

shadowplay: An Immersive Experience

icon-location-pin Access Theater, Chinatown
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The mania for Peter Pan adaptations continues in this intimate adventure, conceived and directed by Rachel Garnet. Audiences wander through multiple rooms and encounter actors playing J.M Barrie and his beloved creations: an ageless boy, his Darling friends and the disabled sea captain who bedevils them. [Not yet reviewed.]

8
Shake and Bake: Love's Labour's Lost
Photograph: Courtesy Chad Batka
Theater, Shakespeare

Shake & Bake: Love's Labour's Lost

icon-location-pin 94 Gansevoort St, West Village
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If food be the music of love, serve on! Dan Swern directs an immersive dinner-theater production of Shakespeare's comedy about noblemen who foreswear love for scholarship (only to be dragged back into the game by visiting French maidens) in an immersive production that includes an eight-course tasting menu that is prepared in front of the audience and served throughout the show. [Not yet reviewed.]

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9
Christian Brailsford, Nya, and Dusty Ray Bottoms in Cleopatra
Photograph: Courtesy Jenny Anderson
Theater, Interactive

Cleopatra

icon-location-pin Chelsea Market | New York, NY, Chelsea
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Powerhouse vocalist Nya makes a stunning nightlife queen in this campily fun immersive musical, which unabashedly values hedonism over history. Inebriated audiences are invited to party like it's Nineteen-Ninety-Nile as quiptastic Dusty Ray Bottoms emcees sexy interactive games and a sweaty multicultural chorus performs director-choreographer JT Horenstein's athletic moves. Your heart won't get touched, but there's a pretty good chance your body will be.

10
The Dead, 1904
Photograph: Carol Rosegg
Theater, Drama

The Dead, 1904

icon-location-pin Irish Repertory Theatre, Chelsea
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The Irish Rep presents a return engagement of its 2016 adaptation of James Joyce's short story about a holiday meal in Dublin, staged immersively at an intimate Upper East Side townhouse. Ciarán O'Reilly directs a script by Paul Muldoon and Jean Hanff Korelitz, with Melissa Gilbert and Rufus Collins in the central roles. Admission includes dinner and drinks.

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