One of the great things about New York is that people aren’t afraid to experiment and innovate. We saw this in action on November 15th, as we had the opportunity to participate in the opening night of Passion Nation’s limited run at the Lightbox Event Space in Manhattan.
Passion Nation is billed as immersive entertainment with integrated food and drink that tells an inspiring tale of American optimism and accomplishments. The experience follows a reverse chronological timeline from 1969 to the 1700s, highlighting different aspects of American history through live acting, recorded music, and 360-degree projected imagery. The four-course meal is intended to align with different eras.
As with many innovative and experimental endeavors, Passion Nation had both high points and some misses. A highlight of the theatrical presentation was the re-enactment of the 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, as they vied for a Senate seat. The power of Lincoln’s words felt as inspired today as they must have been 160 years ago. The first dinner course was also quirky and interactive, with a savory macaron atop an illuminated “ice cube,” dehydrated apples, and powdered Tang drink mix to commemorate the 1969 moon landing.
The pace of the evening is quick, since the experience is intended to precede a night at a theater performance. As a result, the historical storyline can feel disjointed at times and the meal seemed rushed. Passion Nation is definitely ambitious, trying to accomplish many things simultaneously. The event can’t be compared with “single track” entertainment like dinner at a fine restaurant or a theater performance. It was a novel night out, but it may not be for everyone. Passion Nation runs through December 9th and then resumes January 3 through 27th, 2019 at the Lightbox Event Space, 248 West 37th Street, New York, NY. Drinks are included with dinner, but no dietary restrictions are accommodated since it is a set menu. The team behind the show includes Jerry Stone (Executive Producer), David Palmer (Executive Producer), Reid Miller (Creative Director), and Bill Castellino (Writer and Director).
In the spirit of disclosure, we received complimentary tickets to this event. The opinions we have expressed are our own.