Director Ivo van Hove’s revival of “A View from the Bridge” opened to critical acclaim at the Lyceum Theatre last month. And while Arthur Miller’s classic drama has been on Broadway five times before (most recently in 2010), this “Bridge” offered something no other “Bridge” revival has before: onstage seating.
Located on each side of the stage, the seats, which sell for $135 in advance, put audiences right in the middle of the action, giving them an unobstructive, immersive view of the “Bridge.”
A limited number of seats are also available for $20, during a special day-of rush.
Other Broadway shows have allowed audiences to be a part of the onstage action in the past. The 2006 production of “Spring Awakening” and 2007’s “Xanadu” built much of its action around onstage seats, while 2012’s “Once” opened its bar setting to theatergoers before the show and during intermission. 2014’s “Rocky” even moved people out of the audience and onto the stage for the show’s climactic boxing scene.
But never before has the onstage experience felt so crucial to the show. Sitting amongst the action, you’re pulled into the story with every word, all the while feeling the watching eye of the audience in the house staring down on you. It’s a tense atmosphere, but one that’ll make you feel as if you’re watching the play for the first time.
The onstage seating decision was made to mimic the intimacy of the arena space of London’s Young Vic, where the production originated.
Actor Michael Gould, who plays Alfieri in the show, told NBC New York what the experience is like from his perspective:
“Whereas in a big theater, you’ve got a big audience and you can sense a general kind of sense of awe or shock or enjoyment, here you get very localized, specific responses,” he said. “You can see someone putting their hand across their mouth. You can hear little sobs, little gurgles and little involuntary bits of ‘Oh no!’”
Gould also says the experience sharpens his focus as an actor:
“On a very intuitive level, all of us modulate our performance very slightly,” Gould says. “So if they are particularly shocked by [a character’s] behavior...I think ‘I’ve got to work harder tonight to get them back on his side.’ It’s very subtle and very intuitive.”
The onstage seating allows the Brooklyn waterfront setting of the play to take on a whole new meaning. “This is a massive story being told about a very local place,” Gould explained. “I end up thinking the the people on stage are part of the Red Hook community. They are part of us, and in that way, they are different than the people in the audience.”
That is not, of course, to deny the experience the rest of the audience has from high above, which still leaves you on the edge of your seat. But the best view of this “Bridge” is definitely from the stage.
“A View From the Bridge,” through Feb. 21, 2016 at the Lyceum Theatre. Tickets: $39-$135. Call 212-239-6200.