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There are many ways to survive the winter months (including leaving town and heading for a nice warm beach). But we’ve got another potential solution: how about diving headfirst into a live theater production? That’s the idea behind the latest trend in visual immersive theater productions all over the country and particularly here in Gotham. Herewith, our edit of the best new immersive theater productions to see and enjoy in New York City (NYC) this year, including The Great Gatsby and The Jungle. 

immersive theater productions are more popular than ever

Immersive theater. It’s a big, beautiful umbrella, under which all kinds of transformative, genre-bending, interactive experiences can fall. Those experiences may happen on a stage, but they also may happen on the street, in an apartment, or at a restaurant. Immersive theater helps to blur the line between art and life.

new immersive theater productions New York

The best new immersive theater productions to see in New York right now.

And as we hurtle into the future, more and more creators are recognizing our collective desire to participate in the art we consume; the desire to see ourselves inside the story – and they’re creating work that makes space for those wishes to become a reality.

Before we get too far into 2023, we wanted to round up a few of the best new and truly extraordinary immersive theater productions happening in New York right now. Some of these are old, some new, and some coming soon – but all are bound to revolutionize the way you think about theater, about storytelling, and about life itself.

Just keep in mind that Seinfeld episode, where George Costanza nurses a grudge for years about an unremovable stain on his favorite sweater that occurred during an immersive theater performance. Mind the flying objects and condiments! You’ve been warned.

The 10 most extraordinary immersive productions to see in New York

1. Sleep No More

When most people think of immersive theater, they think of Sleep No More. As they should – this interactive production of Macbeth is legendary, and a cut above most other theater, whether immersive or otherwise. If you’ve ever wanted to watch Shakespeare’s most famous play unfold before your very eyes – all while wandering through the opulent, atmospheric rooms of The McKittrick Hotel – it’s time to buy your ticket and don your mask. There’s a good chance you know of Sleep No More (and maybe you’ve even been), but since it was closed for much of the last few years, we think it’s time for a revisit. Besides, the great thing about immersive theater is that there’s always something new to see – and maybe this time, you’ll be one of the lucky few who gets pulled into the action alongside the performers.

2. The Infinite Wrench

Of course, you don’t need lavish costumes and set design to create immersive theater; all you need are brave and talented performers who are willing to break the barrier between the people on the stage and the people in the audience. Every Friday and Saturday at 10:30 pm, the New York Neo-Futurists do just that – performing 30 short plays where they are… themselves. It’s difficult to explain The Infinite Wrench in a way that makes it sound anything like the life-changing experience that it is, but you should know that it’s different every single week, and that it’s going to be one of the highlights of your 2023. We promise.

new immersive theater productions New York

New immersive theater productions to see in New York.

3. Shooting Star

Don’t miss out on seeing new immersive musical Shooting Star. This is a love-story about a gay Hollywood actor who becomes a star in the adult film industry, and it’s a perfect example of how setting – in this case, Bushwick bar 3 Dollar Bill – has as much to do with the immersive as the content of the show itself. Some spaces open a door for the audience to approach the action, and this is one of them. Closes on January 26th.

4. Nighttime Stories: A Doomed Village

From January 14th through January 21st, enjoy a journey through the dystopian world of Mount Tumoe – in the brand-new theatrical experience from the Gene Frankel Theatre. We love the power of immersive theater to transport us (literally!) to  alternate universes, and that’s exactly what happens in this epic production. Allow the story’s protagonist to guide you through his world, and maybe you’ll even be able to help him uncover the secret behind some recent disappearances.

5. The Jungle

Coming on February 18th to St. Ann’s Warehouse, the return of the immensely successful immersive production from Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson. Audiences are invited into the space of a makeshift refugee camp in Calais, France, where many immigrants have gathered in advance of their admittance to the United Kingdom. Listen to their stories, and use the intimacy of the immersive medium to connect with the people you see on stage. We expect this to be one of the must-see productions of the season.

New immersive theater productions in New York City (NYC) this year, including The Great Gatsby and The Jungle.

6. The Great Gatsby: The Immersive Experience

We can’t think of a single novel that’s better suited to the immersive format than The Great Gatsby. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of attending one of Jay Gatsby’s parties? Even though Fitzgerald tells us that no one at those parties was having any fun, we know that this time it’s going to be different – because we’re going to be the ones in attendance. Also, who doesn’t love an opportunity to dress up? Opening on March 9th.

7. David Blaine Presents: Asi Wind’s Inner Circle

When it comes to audience participation, magic shows are already a step ahead of most theater. And Asi Wind’s Inner Circle is even more intimate than most, making its audience into true key players as the night unfolds. We don’t want to tell you too much – that would spoil the fun – but you should know that this is as much a story as it is a magic show, and that it’s the perfect evening if you’re looking to get up close and personal with a piece of theater. Open now through February 26th.

8. Jewel Thief Nomad

When you make a reservation at Jewel Thief Nomad, you’re in for more than just a first-rate cocktail experience. Your night out will be filled with surprise pop-up performances, and they will transform your evening of drinks into something a lot more memorable. We were torn about whether or not to include dinner theater in our list of immersive productions, but we figured why not? Experiential dining is something we expect to see a lot more of in the future, and this is a great example of the way immersive theater can help to enhance every aspect of our lives.

new immersive theater in New York City (NYC) this year, including The Great Gatsby and The Jungle. 

New immersive theater productions in New York City (NYC) this year, including The Great Gatsby and The Jungle.

9. Journey

And if you love that idea, you should also try a night at Journey. This is one pre-fixe menu ($175 per person) that comes with more than small plates – every course is accompanied by a performance from a Broadway actor. There are also 360-degree videos, making this an experience that is a true feast for every one of your five senses. Tickets are available through January 31st, and you don’t want to miss out.

10. The Indigo Room

Produced by La MaMa as part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, this new installation from Timothy White Eagle and The Violet Triangle transforms a classic myth into an immersive production. Use the hero’s journey as a way to process collective grief, and move towards something new. Through January 22nd.

The 10 most extraordinary immersive productions to see in New York

That’s our take on the best new immersive theater productions to see and enjoy in New York City (NYC) this year, including The Great Gatsby and The Jungle. Which one’s at the top of your list, dear reader?

Abbie Martin Greenbaum

Abbie Martin Greenbaum is a writer, reader, and pop culture connoisseur, who loves storytelling, coffee, and dessert. Her work has also appeared in Playbill.