One family’s story intersects with New York City history in Cynthia von Buhler’s Speakeasy Dollhouse. Far from traditional theater, this interactive experience encourages guests to play along, talk to strangers and inhabit Prohibition-era New York for a couple of hours. It helps that von Buhler set the spectacle in one of the Lower East Side’s most unique and authentic bars–the Back Room–which was in fact a speakeasy. (It also made our list of New York City’s best hidden bars and speakeasies.) The play really takes advantage of all the venue’s space, shepherding guests from the bakery upstairs, through the alley, down into the bar, and even into the Back Room’s secret back room.
The Speakeasy Dollhouse is based on a true murder mystery–that of von Buhler’s own grandfather. Italian immigrant Frank Spano owned a speakeasy and may have had mafia connections. In 1935, he was shot and killed, and von Buhler brings her guests into the action, starting with actual newspaper articles and an autopsy report which are sent to you before the event. When the play gets under way, guests become witnesses to the murder, hobnob with the judge and undertaker, comfort Frank’s son, and give testimony at the trial. If you liked playing dress-up as a kid, you’ll delight in the chance to immerse yourself in an elaborate game.
See more about the The Speakeasy Dollhouse here.