Photo Credit: Alexander Kusak
BOTTOM LINE: The Orion Experience is everything that nights of clubbing and partying should have been and should always be.
I remember when growing up, I’d watch TV shows and movies with club sequences. Everyone always appeared to be having such a great time and it always seemed like such an accepting environment. As I started actually going out in my college years, I found this not to be the case – frequently it would feel like a chore to party and ‘have fun.' Cut to several years later and The Orion Experience: this immersive disco-pop experience proves that the heightened ideal of a nightclub can exist, as I was surrounded by smiles, dancing, and the most feel-good vibe I’ve encountered since my first visit to Disney World. From what I could tell, an amazing time was had by all.
There may not be much in terms of plot per se (but Rocky Horror arguably does not have much either). I think that we were on a spaceship helmed by Captain Orion (Orion Simprini), that we crashed on a planet, and, with the help of Orion’s cohorts Lindatron (Linda Horwatt) and Dr. Reef (Reef Rox), the power of love saved us from The Queen of White Lies (Sir Honey Davenport). But really, all that matters in The Orion Experience is everything that happens around you. There’s a chorus of dancers and singers that would seem to appeal to every type. There are aerialists and glow sticks and pure happiness bursting out of every corner. I especially found Horwatt to be completely enchanting as Lindatron, and was thrilled when she ran through the room giving everyone a great big hug.
The Orion Experience features music that hearkens back to Studio 54, but with a modern sensibility that brings to mind 90s raves and some electro-pop from the current club scene. More importantly there’s a certain element of innocence to the music – whereas we are used to modern club music being heavily infused with sex, the music here feels more infused with universal love to me. If you can’t afford the CD, you can instagram your photos from the evening to enter a raffle for a free cd. (And yes, you are encouraged to take photos throughout the evening).
Having seen other immersive theatre events (Here Lies Love, Fuerza Bruta, The Donkey Show, and the like), I found it especially fascinating how effortlessly the production corrals the audience around when necessary. Usually this kind of presentation needs a staff full of ushers to move the audience and ensure they don’t get in the way of the show. The Orion Experience doesn’t do this - it keeps the audience fully involved at all times and the entire experience truly feels organic. The only non-cast element comes in the form of some expert bussers who mop up the frequently spilled cocktails before any of the acrobats slip and fall. In fact, I frequently found myself forgetting who was in the crowd versus who was in the show.
Suffice to say, I think The Orion Experience would appeal to anyone who is out to have a good time, regardless of their walk of life. The age range was from early 20s to late 70s and no one seemed out of place. The only complaint I can muster is that it could have lasted longer. In fact, when the Captain exclaimed “Take us home,” someone in the crowd screamed “No I don’t want to go home” – I definitely echoed that sentiment.
(The Orion Experience blasts off at XL Nightclub (512 West 42nd Street) through September 1, 2013. Performances are Thursdays at 8PM, Saturdays at 9PM, and Sundays at 8PM, with an additional performance on Friday, August 30 at 8PM. Tickets are $45 – with a limited number of premium experience packages available for $75 – and may be purchased online at TheOrionExperience.com, by calling 212.352.3101, or at the venue. Passengers are welcome to remain in XL following the flight and celebrate their adventure to the stars all night long.)