Ivo van Hove's new Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge is a theatrical experience unlike any other — a jaw-dropping reinvention of a classic drama that leaves audiences stunned nightly. But that's not the only reason why: Every night, nearly 200 audience members are able to watch the show from the stage itself at the Lyceum Theatre. They're not selected in any special way — everyone can be one of those lucky few just by buying tickets.
While onstage seating isn't new to Broadway (remember the original Spring Awakening and the recent Mark Rylance-led Twelfth Night?), in the case of A View From the Bridge, it feels like a revolutionary experience. Here are five reasons why.
1. It's a more emotionally intense experience than sitting in the auditorium.
Ivo van Hove's production is like watching a speeding train with its brakes cut: You know it's going to crash into something and it's going to hurt — and there's nothing you can do about it. Van Hove stages his actors to move around the playing space like caged animals, oftentimes turning out of view of the audience. When you're sitting onstage, however, you're privy to the the brilliant company's full range of emotion, complete with the gut-wrenchingly anguished faces of Mark Strong (Eddie) to the sorrow-filled glares of Nicola Walker (Beatrice).
2. You get a sense of Broadway history.
As soon as you take your seat, turn around and appreciate the unique vantage point, which most audience members will never get to experience. You're onstage in a 112-year-old space with three levels of seating. The energy changes as you realize you're on hallowed ground, moving around on the same platform that saw performances from the likes of Billie Burke, Ethel Barrymore, Fanny Brice, Eli Wallach, Julie Harris, and now, Mark Strong. (Plus, you can tell unsuspecting friends that, by being on a Broadway stage, you made your own Broadway debut.)
3. It gives you a new appreciation for the times when actors must deal with audience distractions.
Every time an audience member's phone rings, not only are the people around them disturbed, but (as you probably learned from Patti LuPone and Benedict Cumberbatch) so are the actors beyond the proscenium. They can hear and see it all, whether it's a ringing phone or a snoozing patron. For Mark Strong, who lays it on the line every night, the worst part is what comes after an electronic device starts buzzing. "What happens," Strong says, "is everybody starts tut-tut-ing, and that spreads all over. Tsk-tsk-tsk ." So turn 'em off. Completely off.
4. It's one of the greatest student-rush deals ever.
While onstage seats at A View From the Bridge cost $135 in advance, if you're a student with a valid ID — and willing to line up before the box office opens — you can get those seats for $20. Not only is it a chance to see terrific theater at a reasonable price, it provides students with full scope of how theater really works, onstage, backstage, and in the house.
5. You actually do forget you're watching a play.
When you're sitting onstage, you lose yourselves in the tortured lives of the Carbone family as they meet their destinies — and you'll never be the same. A view from the stage seats at A View From the Bridge makes for a truly remarkable theatrical experience, one that every audience member should take advantage of.