Curious about immersive theatre? New York City knows how it’s done. After the smash-hit interactive show Sleep No More debuted, many other Off- and Off-Off Broadway productions have adopted similar “choose your own adventure” storytelling.
At these 17 experimental shows, you’ll wander settings like speakeasies and a gazillion poppable bubbles. Adventurous audience members—whether kids or adults—can even interact with the cast or help solve a mystery. Read on to learn about immersive theatre happening now in New York, where audience participation reaches the next level.
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Sleep No More
Photo by Robin Roemer.
It’s the show that started it all: Sleep No More. Staged throughout a vintage Chelsea hotel, Sleep No More reimagines Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a noir tale. The first big hit in interactive theatre, Sleep No More has been running in NYC since 2011. Audience members move at their own pace and view chosen scenes for as long as desired. Roam from room to room, and see actors perform surreal and suspenseful scenes (you may even catch a glimpse of celebs like Evan Rachel Wood performing and other famous faces in the audience!). Shake off your spooks with drinks at the on-site Manderley Bar after you’re finished your experience. Sleep No More was created by Punchdrunk and EMURSIVE at The McKittrick Hotel, among the best NYC venues for immersive experiences. Ages 13+. Open run. Masks (provided) and proof of vaccination required. Open run. 530 W. 27th St., 212-352-3101, mckittrickhotel.com/sleep-no-more
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Blue Man Group
Expect the unexpected with the family-friendly Blue Man Group. These iconic blue guys have traveled around the world, but did you know they have a home in NYC’s East Village? Bring your kids for music, comedy, audience interaction, and plenty of immersive elements for the whole audience. Discover the wonder and silliness in store at the Astor Place Theatre. Ages 3+. Masks and proof of vaccination required. Open run. 434 Lafayette St., 800-258-3626, blueman.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: An Immersive Cocktail Experience
Step back in time to the 1970s to the world’s most chic, sophisticated, and dangerously elite hotel in NYC. Venture into the hotel’s cryptic underworld for an unforgettable evening of cocktails and live, interactive storylines—all with a killer twist. Welcome to The Continental: The Hotel Bar Experience is an immersive cocktail experience inspired by Peacock's new three-part event, The Continental: From the World of John Wick. Runs September 21st through October 8th. The Continental NY, 82 Beaver St., feverup.com/m/139065
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC | TerrorVision
Near Times Square you'll find the heart-pounding immersive horror experience TerrorVision. Audiences embark on a tour of the 20,000 square feet of rooms and passageways that make up the dilapidated Horrowood Studios for a sneak peek of the filming of an upcoming TerrorVision Halloween episode. But when the screen shatters, guests are forced to inhabit three nightmarish tales, each one overflowing with gruesome creatures and terrifying special effects. From September 13th. 300 W. 43rd St., facetheterror.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC | Lighthouse: An Immersive Drinking Musical
The critically acclaimed Irish-American musical comedy Lighthouse: An Immersive Drinking Musical pays tribute to the most important thing that got New York City through the coronavirus pandemic: alcohol. Full of original drinking songs, Irish step dancing and FREE SHOTS, the story follows a female bar owner trying to keep her pub open in 2020. Through September 30th. SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam St., sohoplayhouse.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Watch Night
In the aftermath of unspeakable tragedy, a reporter visits a sacred space defiled by American violence in search of a story ready made for Hollywood only to find that history repeats itself too soon. Fusing melodies rooted in spirituals, percussive breath and fiery opera with the urgency of slam poetry, Watch Night emerges as an immersive exploration of justice and forgiveness in the face of deadly rage. November 3rd through November 18th. Perelman Performing Arts Center, 250 Fulton St., pacnyc.org
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Speakeasy Magick at The McKittrick Hotel
Located in the same Chelsea hotel as Sleep No More, this magic show invites guests to an intimate evening of close-up illusions. “Master deceptionist” Todd Robbins hosts, though various magicians appear and disappear from these performances. Drink in the magick (and maybe a cocktail or two) at The McKittrick Hotel Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Open run. 530 W. 27th St., 212-352-3101, mckittrickhotel.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Accomplice The Show
Accomplice takes immersive theatre outside to the streets of New York. These comedic experiences occur on a walking tour, creating what Accomplice calls “adventure theater.” Accomplice The Village returns to Greenwich Village on Saturday afternoons (spoiler: you’ll help solve a missing persons case!). Upon request, Accomplice also stages a private event called The Golden Spork that incorporates dinner and a few escape room elements. Open run. accomplicetheshow.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC | The Art of Killin' It: An Immersive Whodunit
When the album release soirée for a big time Influencer at Hardigan Manor turns deadly, the guests, along with the help of the audience, must follow the clues and discover who the killer is. Will more bodies drop before the album does? Discovering who did it at The Art of Killin' It in a Brooklyn theatre space is as unpredictable as the show’s ending. Audience members are encouraged to show up on time—there are surprises waiting. 32 Meadow St., East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, exploretock.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Drunk Musicals
Half scripted, half improv, this interactive show’s cast solicits highlights from favorite musicals, pops them into a parody script, and are off and creating a madcap production—with a twist: theatregoers can send the performers shots during the show. The sobriety—and hilarity—of the actors is in the audience’s hands. Totally. (Ages 21 & up.) Starts April 10th. Green Fig Piano Bar, 570 Tenth Ave., thegreenroom42.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: The Paradox Cycle
Alchemy. Astronomy. White Magic. The Order of the Three Keys is the most powerful organization you’ve never heard of—until now. Join their ranks, and investigate the heretical experiments of Edmond Cavanaugh, a man whose actions reverberate though time itself. The Paradox Cycle by Doors of Divergence is a time-breaking three-part immersive series out of the escape room tradition. Each chapter has branching narratives that continue episodically from show to show, with decisions responding in real time to choices audiences make. Tickets are now available for the first two chapters in the cycle: Heresy, 1897 and Madness: 1917. Part III is coming this year. 32 Meadow St., East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, doorsofdivergence.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: BATSU! New York
Combining game show, dinner theatre, and comedy, BATSU! New York will infuse your evening with fun and frenzy. The journey begins in the East Village with a speakeasy vibe as you travel through a mural. Then, tuck into a Japanese dinner provided by the restaurant Kogame by Kamehachi. After dinner, watch improvisers compete against each other in a live game show—or join them yourself! If you prefer to spectate, the Sake Ninja can pour you a drink. Must be 16+ to attend and 21+ to drink and participate. Proof of vaccination required. Wednesday through Saturday; open run. 133 E. 4th St., batsulive.com/new-york
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Murdered by the Mob
A little merriment, marinara, and murder is on the menu at this dinner theatre show. Murdered by the Mob has been running for 26 years in NYC. Solve the murder of Big Pauly Costello, eat a pasta dinner, and dance the night away at this funny mystery show with your family and friends. Ages 8+. Open run. 932 Second Ave., 212-662-7469, murderedbythemob.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: MoonRise
Cirque du Soleil meets astrology in the immersive new show MoonRise. Explore these interactive installations, complete with aerial stunts, themed around 13 moon goddesses. The show gets personal with a goddess tied to your birthday; plus it uses sensory elements like scents to ensconce you in the environment even further. This circus-like show is staged in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Ages 21+. Masks recommended. Saturdays only; open run. 1329 Willoughby Ave., moonrisecircus.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Madame Tussauds New York Presents Broadway
The show must go on at Broadway, courtesy of Madame Tussauds Times Square. Inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and other Andrew Lloyd Webber hits, this experience takes guests from backstage to the spotlight. Get glamorous with hair and makeup, compose a custom musical score on the giant floor piano, and hit the stage for a showstopping number. You just might get a glimpse of yourself in Joseph’s technicolor dreamcoat! 234 W. 42nd St., 212-512-9600, madametussauds.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Drunk Shakespeare
Fans of Drunk History—and the Bard of course—will have a jolly time at Drunk Shakespeare, staged Off-Broadway in the Theatre District. One actor starts the show off with five shots of whiskey as audience members drink cocktails and look on from their seats, cocktails in hand. The show proceeds with one inebriated actor and their 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+. Masks and proof of vaccination required. Open run. 777 Eighth Ave., drunkshakespeare.com
Immersive Theatre Experiences in NYC: Gazillion Bubble Show
Family-friendly and immersive, Gazillion Bubble Show has run Off-Broadway for 15 years. Kids and adults will be thrilled as the Yang family transforms bubbles beyond imagination. This popular show even gave Ryan Seacrest and Kelly Ripa super-sized bubble wands when Gazillion Bubble Show visited LIVE with Kelly and Ryan! A spectacle for kids and adults, it’s conveniently located in the Theatre District, a short walk from Times Square. Masks and proof of vaccination or negative COVID test required. Open run. 340 W. 50th St., 212-239-6200, gazillionbubbleshow.com
Additional reporting by Griffin Miller.
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