Step into new worlds, from Belle Epoque Paris to a dark take on Alice’s Wonderland, in the immersive productions now appearing in New York City. You’ll become a character in the unfolding story as you walk expansive sets, wear masks and costumes, and interact with actors in these groundbreaking shows that pull you into the action. Read on for the immersive theater happening now in New York, where audience participation reaches a whole new level.
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: The Imbible
The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking is an Off-Broadway musical comedy that invites the audience to, well, imbibe throughout the show. Recently celebrating its thousandth performance, this beloved experience transports you around the world and throughout history, demonstrating the development of various alcoholic drinks. Hilarious and engaging, the show is also filled with winning a capella music numbers and three delicious drinks from the bar for every audience member. On weekends, see The Imbible’s matinee iteration, Day Drinking: The Brunch Musical. The show follows four friends trying to find time for brunch together. Along the way, they learn about the history of brunch and, more importantly, brunch cocktails. Guests can indulge in the Bloody Mary bar, plus Irish coffees during the show. Open run. 340 W 50th St., 800-447-7400, imbible.nyc
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: The Lighthouse Rescue at Pip’s Island
Kids will love Pip’s Island, an original world full of daring adventure and a touch of magic. This immersive experience on 42nd Street combines fantastic sets, puppetry, augmented reality, and live actors to dazzling effect. Kids are empowered to help Pip and his friends defeat villain Joules Volter, using teamwork, joy, and imagination. The current show is called The Lighthouse Rescue, which will be replaced by a brand-new story set in Pip’s Island in future months. Recommended for kids 5-11. Open run. 400 W. 42nd St., 212-609-1372, pipsisland.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Sleep No More
Engage with the show that started it all: Sleep No More. Staged throughout a vintage Chelsea Hotel, Sleep No More reimagines Shakespeare’s Macbeth through a noir lens. The first big hit in interactive theater, Sleep No More has been running since 2011 and invites each audience member to move at her own pace and view selected scenes for as long as desired. Roam from room to room, and see actors perform surreal and suspenseful scenes as a masked crowd looks on (that’s right, you’ll be wearing a mask too). Shake off your spooks at the on-site Manderley Bar after you’re finished with your experience. Sleep No More was created by Punchdrunk and EMURSIVE at The McKittrick Hotel. Ages 13+. Open run. 530 W 27th St., 212-352-3101, mckittrickhotel.com/sleep-no-more/
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Say Something Bunny!
There’s nothing quite like Say Something Bunny! This critically lauded show allows you to interact with its creator, Alison S. M. Kobayashi, who leads you through her obsession with a mysterious audio recording. Along the way, this funny and fascinating documentary experience reveals the lives of a real Jewish family in New York, whose voices are captured on the recording, and the rich imagination of Kobayashi herself. Extended through January 2020. 511 W. 20th St., saysomethingbunny.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Unmaking Toulouse-Lautrec
Enter the Belle Epoque with the new production Unmaking Toulouse-Lautrec. The show website describes this as “the sexiest art history lesson you’ll ever have,” as it’s based on the work and life of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Music, dance, and story combine in this rich antique environment where audience members can consider the mind of an artist through a contemporary lens. Bated Breath Theatre Company produces this show Wednesday nights inside Madame X in Soho. Open run. 94 W. Houston St., unmakinglautrecplay.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Drunk Shakespeare
Fans of Drunk History and the Bard himself will have a jolly time at Drunk Shakespeare, staged Off-Broadway in the Theater District. One actor starts the show off with five shots of whiskey as audience members drink cocktails and look on from their seats in a large library set. The show proceeds with one very drunk actor and his or her scene partners, all of whom perform a Shakespearean play that careens from profundity to absurdity and back (i.e. not all content will be strictly “Shakespearean”). Two VIP audience members sit in thrones and command actors to drink as they see fit. The privileged King or Queen also eats caviar, drinks champagne, and wears a crown. Ages 21+. The show’s kid-friendly spinoff is Junk Shakespeare, featuring the consumption of candy, chips, and other junk food as kids 8 years and up learn a little about Shakespeare. Open run. 777 Eighth Ave., drunkshakespeare.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Then She Fell
In the spirit of Sleep No More, this mind-bending show invites 15 audience members at a time to explore a Williamsburg mental ward. Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland lends its imagery to this topsy-turvy world, created by Third Rail Projects. The choose-your-own-adventure format leads you through the looking glass, where you’ll encounter actors one-on-one, use skeleton keys, and drink strange potions (don’t worry, they’re just craft cocktails). Most performances ages 21+, select performances 18+. Through September 29, 2019. 195 Maujer St., thenshefell.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Madame Tussauds New York Presents Broadway
The show’s in your hands at Madame Tussauds New York Presents Broadway, a new feature at Madame Tussauds Times Square. Inspired by the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber, this experience takes guests backstage for hair and makeup, to the giant floor piano for composing a custom musical score, and to the stage for a showstopping number. Live actors are on hand to help bring Broadway to life; you’ll encounter characters like Grizabella from Cats and the Phantom of the Opera himself. There’s also a Broadway Bar on site where you can enjoy a drink before curtain. 234 W. 42nd St., 212-512-9600, madametussauds.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Broadway at House of Showfields
Showfields bills itself as “the most interesting store in the world.” Its unique integrated retail model, prioritizing hands-on interaction with a variety of products, provides the setting for a new immersive theater experience, starting its run this month. Like any walk through Showfields, you will be invited to engage with products from across the retail spectrum, from Quip toothbrushes to Book of the Month paperbacks to Eight Sleep high-tech mattresses against a tableau of highly Instagrammable backdrops. House of Showfields invites you to a new story inside the store, tinged with magical realism and a sense of adventure. Open run. 11 Bond St., showfields.com/house
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Six Impossible Things
Magician Joshua Jay, Instgagram.
You’re part of the magic at Six Impossible Things, a show full of illusions where you’re one of just 20 audience members. Magician Joshua Jay personally leads you through the space and dazzles with sleight-of-hand and mind-bending tricks. Performances are staged in Wildrence, a performance space on the Lower East Side, and feature masterful atmospherics in set design. Keep your eyes peeled, as you’re only allowed to see the show once! Ages 14+. Open run. 59 Canal St., siximpossiblethingsshow.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Accomplice
What better stage than the streets of New York? Accomplice explores the wonderful theatricality of the city with walking tours that turn into full-blown showpieces, as actors perform scenes throughout the hilarious interactive production. The show is about 3 hours long and runs April through October (it is staged in the elements, after all). After its success, Accomplice has also launched a Greenwich Village-specific iteration, as well as versions fit for kids in Central Park, bachelorette parties in the Meatpacking District, and private events. Open run. Secret location, 347-559-6223, accomplicetheshow.com