In Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit, a new weekly guest star is handed a script—sealed in an envelope—to perform cold. Without the help of a director, rehearsals or a designed set, anything can happen. The first actor to dive into the experiment was Nathan Lane, but has since starred solo performances by Darren Criss and Ramin Karimloo to Kathy Najimy and Cynthia Nixon, and more.
In celebration of the production’s final performance December 19, producers Tom Kirdahy and Devlin Elliott have shared exclusively with Playbill fun tidbits collected throughout the run by the producers and stage manager.
Here are 17 unrepeatable moments from the run of the Off-Broadway play.
1. An audience member rescues F. Murray Abraham: Apparently determined to save the Oscar winner’s life, an audience member ran onto the stage and grabbed two glasses of water from the set—the play depicts that one of them “contains poison”—and dumped them onto the stage floor before Abraham could drink them. She then ran up the aisle and out of the theatre. While production staff paused the performance to clean up the water, Abraham entertained the crowd with a story of another “audience vigilante” who once exposed himself onstage during a show before making a similar dash to the exit. Abraham also brought his Oscar onstage at White Rabbit Red Rabbit, and gave it to an audience member.
2. No director? No problem! Darren Criss decided to take on the role of director himself, challenging audience members to show off their acting chops and “count off” with silly directives—“with joy!,” “with anguish!”
3. Refusing to leave after Brian Stokes Mitchell: One audience member, after Mitchell’s performance, refused to leave the theatre at the end of the show, claiming that she was very impacted by the play’s “messages about conformity,” and therefore shouldn’t have to leave just because she’s being told to.
4. Ramin Karimloo’s “randy” audience: One audience member shoved money down Karimloo’s T-shirt when she was pulled on stage. When Karimloo assigned the number “246” to an audience member, the gentleman gave his best Jean Valjean impression and sang out “24601!” At the end of the show, two people battled each other to get the chance to read a section of the script onstage with him.
5. Upstaging Kathy Najimy: Najimy had to calm down an audience participant whose performance onstage got a bit too carried away, joking with him that this wasn’t going to earn him an Equity card.
6. Post-election with Alex Brightman: During Brightman’s performance, the first to follow the election, the communal experience in the theatre was stronger than ever and elicited quite a few vocal references to Donald Trump from audience members. One particular audience member, when asked the date, said she didn't know since the election had her “all f*cked up.” Brightman joked, “You’re most certainly the only one who feels that way,” but then went on to say more earnestly, “All we rabbits are in this together.”
7. Crack Rabbits: A host of audience members kept returning to the show called themselves the “Crack Rabbits.” A group of German theatregoers bought the same exact seats for the first seven weeks, so they could participate in a specific section of the show that is based on your seat location.
8. Props for Michael Urie: Patrons brought props to Urie’s performance: a red hat, so that they could play the red rabbit, and a carrot!
9. Stopping the show: Alarmed as he recited the line in the script that prepares the audience for a participation component, Nathan Lane stopped mid-sentence, dropped the script, and warned the crowd, “I don't like audience participation. It falls somewhere between incest and folk dancing.”
10. Audience self-sacrifice: When it came to the point in the play where the actor had to drink the aforementioned “poisoned water,” Brian Dennehy made an audience member come onstage and drink it for him instead. The man happily sacrificed himself for the Tony winner.
11. Whose Line with Wayne Brady: As was customary when Brady performed on the improv TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Brady took an audience request to perform a mime of “suicide by shark attack.”
12. Bobby Cannavale’s ostrich: When the script demanded an “ostrich impression,” Cannavale did so without losing an ounce of swagger—as one audience member exclaimed, “It’s if Marlon Brando and Danny Zuko had an ostrich child!”
13. Singing the script: During Grammy-winning opera singer Joyce DiDonato’s performance, she chose to sing the first few lines to the audience.
14. A family affair: Cynthia Nixon brought her wife and son onstage to perform as part of the show. She specifically chose her family members as the participants, and she did her best to seem unbiased towards them. Her son ended up getting the carrot.
15. An emotional ending: Billy Porter was moved to tears at the end of the show. He was incredibly touched when he got to the very end, specifically mentioning how we never “put the inventor of the gun on trial.”
16. Going Gotham: Almost the entire cast of Fox’s Gotham came to support their “Penguin,” Robin Lord Taylor, at the Halloween performance.
17. Stana Katic’s scavenger hunt: Katic had the most rabid fans in attendance. They were at the theatre by 3 PM (for an 8 PM show). Via her Twitter account, she posted clues for a rabbit-themed social media scavenger hunt throughout New York City to keep her fans entertained on the day of the show. They screamed as she entered the theatre, as she came out onstage, and when she left, so she graciously took an hour to sign autographs and take pictures with everyone who wanted one.