Pip’s Island: Innovative Participatory Theater

By Ingrid Wilkes February 7, 2024

In the world of participatory theater, doing something innovative is becoming increasingly difficult and doing it for children is neigh impossible. But the creators of Pip’s Island: The Lighthouse Rescue have done just that and built a pop-up experience that delivers something very unique.

Make no mistake, this is a Broadway show. But one in which you and your kids get to play a part, to be part of the story and to interact with the actors throughout the entire show. You can book a specific time slot for your adventure. The show lasts sixty minutes, but make sure to arrive a little early and plan to spend some time afterward in the café and gift shop. Photography is not allowed during the show, but you can get a sense of the captivating experience from the photos & videos page on their site.

You can find Pip’s Island at 400 West 42nd Street in midtown. The kids will be moving around a lot, so they should dress in something comfortable. Adults need to be at least eighteen years old when accompanying children.

The experience is distributed across a dozen environments and takes place on a magical island. The goal of the adventure is to help the island’s guardian named Amperes Wattson fend off the devious plans of the villain Joules Volter. We visited the experience on Halloween for a 6 pm show which made for an extra dose of fun and spookiness.

The story unfolds with the help of Pip, Pebble and Finn who enlist the energy and ideas of the children to take active part in the adventure. Together, you and your kids must unlock five sparks: 

  • Investigate
  • Activate
  • Build
  • Imagine
  • Connect

Each of these sparks is awarded after executing various tasks. All of the environments contain high-quality props and antiques which help transport you away from the bustling noise of 42nd street and be immersed in the narrative. A combination of technologies make the mission fun for all such as lighting effects (lasers), videos and animations, music, high-fidelity sound effects, robotics, fake snow and theatrical fog. Oh and there’s a room with a couple of bubble machines too!

There is also an educational packet that has three sections: about the show, pre-journey training, and post-journey debriefing. You can download the packet here.

Opening hours are:

Friday: 2pm - 6pm

Saturday - Sunday: 10am - 6pm

Closed Monday-Thursday

  • General Admission - $59 adults and children aged 4 to 10 (use coupon code “ISLAND50” for 50% off until December 31st, 2019)
  • Group and Party Discounts – groups and schools receive a discounted admission; the venue can accommodate up to 400 guests

Ingrid Wilkes is a mother of two children aged 11 and 7 who has worked in the sports and fitness industry since 1990. She has lived and worked in Southeast Asia, Europe and the US and enjoys trying new trends and exploring healthy alternatives to mainstream eating habits. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a master’s degree in sports management and has taught spinning for several years as a way to balance her interest in marketing and communications.

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