Last weekend, a dozen children boarded an airship, braved a snowstorm, decorated cupcakes, upset the stomach of a large, furry creature, defeated a supervillain and posed for celebratory photos. All before lunchtime.
Ever since “Sleep No More” checked into the McKittrick Hotel, several Chelsea warehouses refitted as a performance space in 2011, immersive theater, in which audiences move through a space and often interact with performers, has been all the participatory rage. More recently, theater artists have created these shows for a shorter crowd.
On Saturday, on the roof of the McKittrick Hotel, my mother and I brought my two children, a preschooler and a rising first-grader, to “Potions & Planting,” an interactive tea party. “Sleep No More,” which performs on the floors below, includes witchcraft, child murder, bloodied bathtubs and a pagan orgy, So it was a relief to emerge into a G-rated space, provisioned with pink lemonade, sausage rolls and cupcakes. Even the bees buzzing in the pots of lavender seemed stingless. During the tea party, performers spirit children away to plant peas, press flowers and make tinctures from crystals and potpourri.
When a performer discloses a wooden swing tucked into a corner, when water pours from a golden pitcher, when the sun glints off the fairy lights and marigolds and the neighboring rooftops, it feels a little like magic. Tickets are $25, though if you need a cocktail to help you through the wholesome fun, that costs extra. Actually, tea costs extra, too. Dolls and other plush friends, provided with their own place cards, chairs and lemonade, attend free. Further parties are scheduled for Aug. 10 and Aug. 24.
The next day I took the first-grader to “Pip’s Island,” an interactive adventure tucked into the base of the Pod Hotel on 42nd Street. Created by Rania Ajami and Rami Ajami, with Walter Krudop, the story is an original one — so original it will take a companion book, available in the bright lobby gift shop for $39, to make sense of it. Tickets are $59 and adults will need them, too, though half-price deals are common.
After a trip upward in a glass elevator, a team leader inducts the kids into the Exceptional Explorers Society. They are then outfitted in safari vests, with their names blazoned on the front, and snazzy wristbands that light up when they collect each of the sparks they need to safeguard the island from the evil Joules Volter and his army of sinister — moles. (Moles are bad now?)