The Sunday Giveaway: Two tickets to Murder Ballad Off Broadway!

Happy spring Sunday, Producer’s Perspective readers!

On this rainy spring day, we’re going to give away tickets to a deliciously dark musical . . . Murder Ballad!

Murder Ballad was a surprise hit earlier this season at Manhattan Theatre Club’s newly re-opened Off Broadway underground space, and now it’s back downtown at the Union Square Theatre for an uber cool commercial run.

It’s got a “killer” cast (get it?  Murder Ballad?  Killer?  I made a “punny”) – Will Swenson, Caissie Levy, John Ellison Conlee, Rebecca Naomi Jones.  And they’ve modified the Union Square Theatre to make the show “environmental.”

Environmental shows seem to be all the rage these days, with Sleep No More, and more recently, Here Lies Love and Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 amongst others.

What is it about environmental productions?  Is it a generational thing?  Has the modern theater reached an age where our audiences (or our creators) are bored with seeing the same shows in such similar spaces that they’ve busted down the fourth wall and created fifth and sixth walls?  Is it even neater if it doesn’t take place in a theater?  Can any show be environmental?

While I encourage your comments on all those questions, it’s the last one that is the subject of this Giveaway.  Pick a show, any show, and set it in an environment specific to the production (ex. Little Shop of Horrors in a Flower Shop) and I’ll pick one winner . . . and that winner will get two tickets to Murder Ballad!

Good luck!  Happy Murder!


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Let’s see Miss Saigon in a Vietnamese nightclub.


  • Evan schild says:

    Into the woods in a forest

  • Kiernan Matts says:

    “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” set on an actual rural patio with the audience seated in lawn chairs on the grass.

  • Ken Sanders says:

    Ken – I once directed a production of STEEL MAGNOLIAS in an actual hair salon that a friend of mine owned, where the audience sat three-quarter, wrapped around the action. Fascinating. The audience members where literally IN the shop itself, placing them literally at the very edges of the action. So as the play occurred, and shampoos and stylings and blow dryings took place, the audience was there in the very midst of these women’s lives. It immersed the audience members in a marvelous way, almost making them fellow patrons IN the salon.

  • Travis says:

    Merat/Sade in an abandoned mental institution, with patients roaming around the space interacting with audience members.

  • sara says:

    I for one would love to get invited to that “wild party” at queenie’s apt. Lippa or LaChuisa version.I’m not picky as long as I can have some bootlegged libations during the show 🙂

  • alex says:

    My hip hop musical in an actual basketball court in the Bronx

  • Beau says:

    I’d love to see a production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA in a museum! The African art section of the Met always takes me to that show.

  • Mickey says:

    Xanadu is an actual roller rink.

  • Mickey says:

    ^^^ IN** an actual roller rink.

  • Allie says:

    The Book of Mormon in Uganda hahaha

  • Brandon says:

    I’m from Pittsburgh and I had a director that I worked with that wants to do August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars” in the backyard that the play takes places. AKA Wilson’s childhood home in the Hill District.

  • A Chorus Line in a theatre! (Ha!)

    My actual answer is Kiss of The Spiderwoman in a prison. THAT would be cool!

  • Aaron Deitsch says:

    What about Once in an actual bar?

  • Katie says:

    How about the Little Mermaid in an aquarium?

  • Michelle says:

    Sweeney Todd in a Barber Shop

  • Robb J says:

    Rent at the Life Cafe. (No Really bring it back. Please!!)

  • Billy Recce says:

    A Little Night Music inside of a real country estate.

  • Imani says:

    The current revival version of Pippin under an actual circus tent! It could be done in the round which means more opportunities for audience members to feel involved in the action!

  • Sierra says:

    Letting everyone onstage to get drinks at Once does make it sort of environmental, but it is still in a theater with the fourth wall clearly intact. I’d be interested to see how the show would play when performed in a real pub, with the actors/musicians sitting among the audience.

  • Sarah P. says:

    How about ‘1776’ in the actual Independence Hall? 🙂

  • Teri says:

    American Idiot in a school

  • Katherine Goldblum says:

    Sunday in the Park With George in an actual park, by a river.

  • Mark says:

    Titanic, the Musical on the Costa Concordia

  • Sue says:

    Macbeth, in Bellevue.

  • Stephanie says:

    Once on this island at the beach!

  • Rafi Levavy says:

    Sweeney Todd in a barber shop. 12 Angry Men in a jury room. (That would be an intimate production.)

    It seems like cheating to say shows like Altar Boyz or Hedwig in clubs.

    As a sidenote, an example of this type of thing that I really liked was when they did On The Town at the Delecorte, for the scene that took place in central park, they just set it up so there was no scenery and you saw the park behind the stage. Another one that I liked was Lettice & Lovage in an old house, as if they were giving a tour.

  • John P. says:

    Woody Allen’s upcoming musical “Bullets Over Broadway” — set in a Broadway theater.

  • Josh lamon says:

    I love environmental theatre. I would love to do an Equus that is staged in an old farm house. In the round with two levels. Another idea would be a revival of The Gin Game. Have the audience walk through a “retirement home” or building set up as such to the waiting area where the show takes place. My final dream show would be Diary of Anne Frank. In a building similar to sleep no more. The design would be that of an old industrial building. Have the audience enter the space through a book shelf. The audience would sit in the round. The entire apartment would be laid out as it really was with walls/doors cut in half so you could see everyone in their environment at all times.

  • Maria D says:

    Titanic—while on a boat.

    (Not saying I’m encouraging the “Hairspray on a cruise ship” that was over-featured on last year’s Tony awards!)

  • Colleen V. says:

    Carousel set in an Amusement Park

  • nancy cohen says:

    Camelot in a castle, of course.

  • Rachel Endick says:

    How about a production of Carousel set in an abandoned amusement park?!

  • Claire says:

    Camelot in a castle/castle grounds.

  • Alan B. says:

    Funny Girl on Henry Street.

  • Laura K says:

    Spamalot in a dark and very expensive forest.


    Sound of Music in Salzburg (which is now being done! I just don’t want to hear the songs in German….)


    A Funny Thing Happened… in an actual forum.

    Somewhere in Time on Mackinaw Island!

  • Eddie says:

    I think Anything Goes would be fantastic on a dinner cruise ship. The audience could wander around the ship catching the big on-deck production numbers or catching the smaller scenes in the staterooms.

  • Jonathan Bach says:

    Sister Act in a club.

  • Randi says:

    The Full Monty in a strip club. Pretty much every bachelorette party would go to that.

  • Arthur Raphael says:

    I’d be very happy to see Maltby/Shire’s “BABY” in a maternity ward/obstetrician/pediatric etc suite of offices.

  • The entertainment world has become much more interactive. It’s no longer sufficient to sit and watch. Audiences want to feel a part if the action. The first “big show” I thought if that did this was Webber’s Phantom, with the audience standing in for the opera-goers, imperiled beneath the titular chandelier! Can any show be environmental that way? I’d say yes, though I’d have trouble being served a pie while watching Sweeney Todd.

  • Patrick Neitz says:

    Steel Magnolias set in a real hair salon. Theatergoers could get their hair cut, nails trimmed and manicured as they watch what happens to Truvy, Weezera and the gang.




  • Passion (Sondheim’s) in a funeral parlor.

    I don’t know why.

  • Josh says:

    A revival of Steel Pier on the Atlantic City Boardwalk (or on the set of Boardwalk Empire in Brooklyn)

  • Jack Lechner says:

    “High Fidelity” in a record store!

  • [Title of Show] in a blackbox. Wait, never mind. How about Peter Pan in Neverland?

  • Rick Reynolds says:

    “Guys and Dolls” in the NY Sewer System!

  • says:

    Rock of Ages in a bar and gentlemen’s club.

  • abe calimag says:

    Rock of Ages in a bar and gentlemen’s club.

  • Erika Jenko says:

    “A Chorus Line” at Ripley Grier Studios. Imagine it…a busy weekday full of auditionees and stress and breaking into song.

  • Barbara says:

    “Wicked” in Oz,(it must exist somewhere), “Peter and the Starcatcher” on a pirate ship, “How to Succeed in Business” in an office building, “Newsies” on the streets of New York,”Into the Woods” in, yes well, the woods.

  • Ed from CT says:

    “The Lion King” in a zoo.

  • Matt says:

    West Side Story on a New York Street/alley.

  • Brian says:

    A rolling production of Merrily We Roll Along! First scene at a high school in New York City. They get in a bus with the cast as they sing “rolling along”. From that point on, The audience must decide if they want to ride on Mary’s bus with a bar, Charlie’s bus which has great show tunes playing or Frank’s luxury bus that has a surcharge. They to a chic penthouse when the audience mingles with guests who are Rich And Happy. Then to a television studio for Franklin Shepard INC. We tour New York City get to the front of the Court House for Best Thing… For Opening Doors we go to the Brill building. The show ends on a rooftop at dusk.

  • Steven J. Conners says:

    Now that the “shop” is no longer locked, tradition is no longer in play. You used to have to know somebody to get a show on B’Way. Today, anyone with money (not necessarily taste)can do a show. “Everybody wants to be an art director…” Nay, now they’re the producers, writers, directors, etc, etc. Look how the shows open and close, open and close. No substance. Not many long runs. -sjc

  • Morgan M says:

    The Pillowman at Eastern State Penitentiary. You could have all the characters cast several times and have all the scenes performed simultaneously in different parts of the dilapidated building so that patrons could move from place to place. Each cast would perform the entire show but in a round so each cast would start at a different point in the play. It would be scary but also artistic and innovative and has selling potential because think about how many tickets you could sell for each performance in a limited engagement.

  • Kyle Abraham says:

    Barnum in a circus tent. A really nice air-conditioned circus tent!

  • Robert says:

    Carousel on an actual carousel with audience members sitting on the horses!

  • Ed says:

    Damn Yankees in Yankee Stadium

  • SECRET GARDEN in a old mansion and estate. I think site specific shows work well when there is some mystery about them, some aspect of going through a haunted house. This show and that kind of space would really be a magical evening in the theater.

  • Gabbi says:

    There are so many… my favourites are: Into the Woods in the woods (which has probably been done before), Priscilla Queen of the Desert in a desert, Sister Act in a church, Anything Goes on a ship, Chicago in a prison, The Little Mermaid under the sea (as if), and Cats in a junkyard.

    Sorry for leaving more than one, I couldn’t help it!

  • Having just seen it last night, Macbeth with Alan Cumming set in an actual psychiatric ward, perhaps Bellevue in NY, Creedmoor in Queens or my personal fave the Graystone Asylum in NJ. I get chills just thinking about it.

  • Tony P says:

    Me and My Girl at a country estate!

  • Michael Hallinan says:

    Jekyll & Hyde in a lab facility!

  • Jeff says:

    In The Heights done Sleep No More style in an actual adjoining bodega, hair salon, and taxi stand in Washington Heights.

  • Courtney says:

    Follies in an abandoned theater. My dream was a production of Follies in the Liberty Theater…and then they turned it into a Famous Daves. *sigh*

  • Julia F says:

    The obvious one is Follies in a condemned theater, no? You could stage different scenes in dressing and rehearsal rooms, with ghosts wandering the entire building. Or Sunday in the Park at the Met; the first act, outside in Central Park, the second inside with actors mingling with paintings.

    Sleep No More is distinct in that the experience isn’t linear or even necessarily narrative. For the other examples, I think adapting the physical environs is just the next extension of creativity in interpretation – a leap from a period treatment of Hamlet to setting it in a modern police state to staging it in a graveyard.

    • Shiraz says:

      While Follies is the obvious one, I’d love to see it created into a new experience where it loses some of the linear story line and instead we can choose to follow the interlocking stories of each of the characters who currently only get a brief moment through various backstage spaces. Heck, you could even change which gals come to the reunion each night.

  • Rick Shulman says:

    I think the obvious answer would be Sunday in the Park with George in an art museum. How about at the Met?

  • Elliot says:

    A Chorus Line set in a theatre…. oh wait

  • Andrew Beck says:

    “On the Twentieth Century” that begins on an abandoned track beneath Penn Station and requires the audience to board a train and journey out to Jersey while the show continues around you.

    or “The Pajama Game” in one of the closed factories in the Garment District

    or “West Side Story” in the playground at W. 52nd and 11th

    or “How to Succeed” on the top floor of say the Conde Nast Tower or the Bank of America Building

    or “Subways are for Sleeping” in the abandoned City Hall station

  • Ed Ertle says:

    “The Most Happy Fella” at a vineyard. Excellent opportunity for product placement, and hopefully, a tasting at intermission!

  • Dean Roth says:

    Sweeney Todd in a barbershop. True cutting edge production.

  • Scott Briefer says:

    I have always wanted to see, Mack and Mabel, played on an enormous sound stage. This problematic musical would be brilliant set in an actual movie studio with the audience on moving bleachers to emulate the various film set-ups: close up (bleachers pulled in close), mid-shot, long-shot, tracking (bleachers moving and following the action), etc. It would be beyond anything NY has ever seen.

  • Scott Briefer says:

    I love immersive theater. Many years ago, I saw Tamara first in LA and then here in NY. Since then, I have literally traveled to where ever I have heard about a new and innovative production.

    Great issue of your always thoughtful blog and weekly giveaway.

  • Natalie Randall says:

    Charlie Brown on a playground…scenes taking place in a jungle gym, teeter totter, swingset, etc.

  • John Dallal says:

    The Producers-set on & around Broadway with,
    perhaps,Ken Davenport’s office as a backdrop.

  • Eb says:

    Starlight express in a railroad yard or the New York City subway system

  • Sabrina says:

    In the Heights as a roving, mobile production in Washington Heights. You could include real views of the GWB, be in the actual Bennett Park, plus a real bodega, salon, fire escape, club, and maybe even a real hydrant that could be opened.

  • Amanda says:

    Damn Yankees as an outdoor production on a baseball field would be great! It could be tailor-made for any size, from tiny little community productions on rec fields to bigger productions at larger venues like minor league fields. Audiences would sit on bleacher seats or in the stands. There would be instant concessions options with many fields having places to sell food/beverages. With playing space on both the grass and the dirt, there would be plenty of places to do all scenes and dance numbers. The dancing baseball boys would be wonderful to see on an actual field! And there’s even great potential for “Whatever Lola Wants” – she could even climb up some of the fencing. It would be an amazing summer theater production.

  • I’d like to see “Doubt” in a big old Church in the Bronx, perhaps the one that inspired the play. I’d love to sit in the garden for the garden scene and in the pews for the priest’s sermons. There is a special atmosphere in a church and rectory and parish hall that really evokes feelings.

  • Sean Springle says:

    Next to Normal in a waiting room at a doctor’s office.

  • Brandon Powell says:

    I’m producing Violet on a moving bus at my university this fall!

  • O. Weisberg says:

    The Assembled Parties in a real Upper East Side luxury apartment

  • Michael L. says:

    Environmental theatre in NYC isn’t so new: in the 1980’s in the Park Avenue Armory, there was an exciting production of “Tamara,” where the audience followed one of the characters throughout the spaces, and then shared dinner to compare notes and fill in the story gaps. Around that time Tony and Tina’s Wedding became a site-specific hit as well.
    What’s exciting for me about site-specific theatre is taking an audience to a venue they’d enjoy even without theatre being presented there. And when the right show is done in that space, it’s an EVENT! That’s what I did when I directed a Poe adaptation in the underground bunkers at Fort Funston in San Francisco. Creepy!
    I’d love to direct Hamlet in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, using its magnificent scale and height, as well as playing intimate scenes in its smaller chapels. The gardens would be perfect for the graveyard scene. They also have an underground theatre (in ruins) which would be perfect for the play-within-the-play. I had the opportunity to direct a scene from Hamlet there when I was a grad student – so much fun!!

  • RRobertson says:

    I submit not a single play per se, but an immersive experience based on the plays of Tennessee Williams, in a setting suggesting the playwright’s mind (a long list of addresses: the French Quarter, a house in Key West, hotel in New York, his sister’s asylum) haunted by the tragic characters and dialogue he penned.

  • Brandon S says:

    BARE…in a church, maybe? Or The Best Little Whorehouse…in Texas?

  • Diane says:

    Altar Boyz should definitely play in a “real” church basement and Somewhere in Time would be lovely to see in a “grand” old hotel by the sea. And yes, I am majorly sucking up here for this prize!!!

  • Stephen says:

    FLOYD COLLINS in a cave.

  • Tim R. says:

    I am DYING to see Murder Ballad. (Get it? Dying?)
    Anyway, I would love to see the musical I wrote ‘Ghostlight’ about the life of Olive Thomas at the actual New Amsterdam Theatre, where most of the show takes place!

    Also, seeing ‘Sweeney Todd’ in an adandoned church or ‘Into the Woods’ in a forest where the audience follows the characters around, helping them look for the objects, etc. would both be pretty epic.

    Also, why not set Grey Gardens in its actual location! I’d be first in line to see that one!

  • Kelly Martin says:

    Sweeney Todd on Fleet Street

  • Jeryl Marcus says:

    Annie in an orphanage.

  • George Rady says:

    BIG fan of Environmental Theatre! If it wasn’t for the practical need to pack people in like sardines to justify the cost of a single performance… I would ONLY do Environmental Theatre! My dream would be to do Restoration Comedy in an English Manor House (as it was most often performed for the family and a small group of invited guests!

    How ’bout Dante’s “Inferno” in… Hell (I know someone who knows someone… who can get us a good Deal – and it won’t cost You your Soul!)

  • Geri W says:

    “Aladdin” on a Magic Carpet in the sky.

  • Zach says:

    ‘Show Boat’ in an actual showboat please…definitely needs to be moving during the performance AND some of the show should be staged on the water.

    ‘Old Man River’ (and his ever unpredictable currents) would likely make this concept nearly impossible but its certainly worth a thought in my opinion.

  • Chelsea says:

    I’d say “My Favorite Year” in actual TV studios.

  • Dave says:

    How bout SOUTH PACIFIC on one of the islands that serves as a popular docking point for the cruise liners – maybe Tahiti, or Samoa?

    (Or, State Fair at a state fair, or Carousel on a carousel, or Oklahoma! in … wait for it … Oklahoma. What are we learning here? That Rodgers and Hammerstein weren’t that imaginative in their titles, I guess.)

  • Luke H. says:

    This might be a bit too obvious, but I’d love to see “Sunday in the Park With George” on the actual Island.

  • Thom Storr says:

    “Starlight Express” in an old railway roundhouse.

  • Bryan Austermann says:

    I would love to see Wicked in Oz. You know, just for the fun of being in Oz. Though, this seems somewhat impractical.

    Almost any family drama I think would be really interesting to see in the actual family’s house. August Osage County and The Assembled Parties come to mind. (An apartment I suppose for the latter)

  • Samantha O says:

    Grey Gardens in a recreation of their East Hampton home.

  • Erin M. says:

    I’d love to see a revival of Mame in a posh and well-outfitted NYC penthouse. The same treatment could be used for Company, making you feel like you’re one of Bobby’s friends in his apartment.

    Personally, though, I’d vote for using the set of Mad Men for another revival of How to Succeed in Business. You could draw in the Mad Men fans and even keep Robert Morse around!

  • Joe G says:

    Rebecca the musical performed in the courtroom where all the show’s lawsuits play out. Meta immersion?

  • Michael Hallinan says:

    Jersey Boys in an actual recording studio would be quite fun!

  • ECP says:

    The Who’s TOMMY, in an amusement arcade.

  • Colton says:

    How about Chicago in a Vaudeville club?

  • Jennifer Bryan says:

    Can’t beat seeing Sound of Music in a stunning outdoor mountain setting, like this yearly performance in Leavenworth, WA – the show even starts with a man in liederhosen playing an alpenhorn (remember the Ricola commercials?) from higher up on the mountain.
    As they describe it. “The sun falls behind the ridge, the moon rises over the valley, and Maria descends the hillside singing “The Hills are Alive.” 

  • Tom L says:

    Catch Me If You Can in the TWA Terminal at JFK…or a TV Studio.

  • Donna says:

    Wedding Singer in a catering hall

  • Jennifer Bryan says:

    Can’t beat seeing Sound of Music in a stunning outdoor mountain setting, like the yearly performance in Leavenworth, WA – the show even starts with a man in liederhosen playing an alpenhorn (remember the Ricola commercials?) from higher up on the mountain.
    As they describe it. “The sun falls behind the ridge, the moon rises over the valley, and Maria descends the hillside singing “The Hills are Alive.” 


  • Jennifer Bryan says:

    You can’t beat seeing Sound of Music in a stunning outdoor mountain setting, like the yearly performance in Leavenworth, WA – the show even starts with a man in liederhosen playing an alpenhorn (remember the Ricola commercials?) from higher up on the mountain.
    As they describe it. “The sun falls behind the ridge, the moon rises over the valley, and Maria descends the hillside singing “The Hills are Alive.” 


  • Dan says:

    Pacific Overtures staged during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. #topical

  • Allison Raven says:

    Murder Ballad in a bar or on a pool table 😀

  • Roger Gindi says:

    “Most Happy Fella” in a winery. With wine tasting at intermission.

  • Michael Reed says:

    Putnam County Spelling Bee in a school or Anything Goes on a ship.

  • Shannon D. says:

    South Pacific .. on a beach
    Rocky Horror … in a castle!!!!

  • Jonah Stabinski says:

    Titanic… In the ocean

  • Bob says:

    “No Exit” at the Republican National Convention

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  • whole of the UK but of course most of our work is in London .

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