I was fortunate to attend “Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic” last spring in New York City. The historic theater that housed the show was hidden away behind a diner near Times Square. It has been said that the theater is haunted by one of its former stars. This show is described as immersive theater, as the action in the musical occurs around the audience who are also invited to dress up and play a part that is given to them as they arrive.
The story revolves around Olive Thomas, a Ziegfeld showgirl, whose life ended tragically after she married Jack Pickford. The performance explores whether her death was a suicide, murder, or just an unfortunate accident. During the three intermissions you can watch each scenario of the night of her death take place in a hidden glass enclosed upstairs room decorated to recreate the Paris hotel room where she died.
The first floor has a stage where various burlesque acts and singers perform contemporary songs in the style of the (1930’s). One of my favorite performances was the song “Chandelier” where the dancer’s were actually swinging from the ornate chandelier above us.
The second floor is decorated in the style of the infamous Cabaret du Néant (Cabaret of Nothingness) which was in Montmartre, Paris. One of the highlights of the show for me was while in the Carbaret du Néant, Jack Pickford took my hand and led me over to a bench and began to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. I was taken aback, though, when Olive Thomas came over and confronted me for talking to her husband. I truly was part of the immersive experience!
The musical was written, directed and produced by Countess Cynthia Von Buhler. I first learned of Countess Von Buhler through Dr. Sketchy in New York City. I saw her first immersive theater piece “Speakeasy Dollhouse” which explored the mysterious unsolved murder of Cynthia Von Buhler’s grandfather. The first time I saw the show I was hooked, and ended up seeing it two more times. Each time was totally different experience.