Castle in the Sky

Produced by Under the Rose Productions

The Look Club
5 min readDec 4, 2023

Experienced in Los Angles ~ December 2023

Heather Renee Wake and James Roch perform a scene titled “Loyalty” in “Castle in the Sky.” (Zak Agha)

The Experience & How it Works:

Castle in the Sky is an immersive theatre performance in which the audience is “cordially invited to join the crème de la crème of Prohibition Era Hollywood at the Art Deco penthouse of the notorious Mr. James Oviatt, the most renowned fashion connoisseur of his day.” You arrive and a butler takes you up in the elevator and orients you to Mr. Oviatt’s penthouse, where you are invited to explore and get a drink from the rooftop bar.

The show begins with a scene on the rooftop that introduces all the characters for the evening, after which audience members are invited to follow the character of their choice into a following scene in one of the various rooms of the penthouse.

A 1920s radio station comes on in between scenes alerting the audience that they are now able to switch rooms. During the main action of the scenes, the doors to some of the rooms will be closed, preventing audience members from moving rooms during scenes.

The show weaves together fiction and reality, taking inspiration from the lives of real-life characters who left a mark on the era. Guests should be aware that some scenes do repeat. If you’re not interested in seeing the same scene twice, pay attention and move rooms before the doors are closed.

The creators share their thoughts on what to expect.

Why it’s Interesting, IMHO:

It’s set in an authentic 1920s art deco penthouse in downtown Los Angeles, is inspired by the true history of the renowned fashion connoisseur who owned it, showcases authentic period costumes and is directed and choreographed by folks of have created for artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani and for the films Booksmart, Don’t Worry Darling and Blonde.

Thoughts from an historian.

Initial Impression & Critical Discussion:

The minute you enter the elevator, you are transported to another world. The sets and costumes are enchanting and give you good reason to be excited to explore the space and the lives of these characters.

Being welcomed by characters who asked—and remembered!—our names was truly engaging and made us feel a part of this world. However, the fact that some scenes acknowledged us and other scenes ignored us leant an inconsistency to the experience that, while not diminishing the enjoyment, did alter the way in which we were immersed, leaving audience members with an unclear sense of their role.

The audience members were both invited guests at this 1920s party and also invisible time-travelers observing from the modern era. While there’s nothing wrong with this, assuming it was a conscious choice by the creators, it may present an opportunity for audience engagement. Consider whether there might be a way for either the audience members to signal whether in that moment/scene they are 1920s guests or invisible time-travellers, or for the space or performers to indicate that, to enter a room/scene, the audience must convert into whichever is specified. This would give the audience a choice of the kind of experience they would like and could perhaps support their ability to follow a storyline or two throughout the evening. It might also allow the creators to more clearly convey the relevant themes and intentions for each style of experience.

Behind the scenes.

If, indeed, there are complete story lines for each character—ones that begin with an inciting incident and end with a resolution—it may serve the show to recommend that the audience choose one character to follow throughout the evening so that they may enjoy the benefit of these thoughtfully-crafted storylines. We fear the writer’s hard work may not be getting its due.

The use of movement as a storytelling tool was exciting and among the favorite moments of one of our reviewers. While some of the scenes are dialog driven, others are interpretive dance performances or performance art. They seemed most likely to be window into the inner life of the performing character. As with the changing role of the audience member, it could be interesting for the show to explore some sort of a signal that the audience has gone from being in the room with the character to being, in a way, in the mind of the character.

The performers were all quite talented and gave engaging, memorable performances. In some ways, it is their talents that made us all the more eager for the opportunity to better and more fully understand their various stories. We hope that this show is able to re-open in 2024 so that more people can see it and so that those who have seen it can see more of the extensive story world. (We hear that there are over 50 scenes!)

Thoughts from the casting director.


  • Dress for Excess. Guests are encouraged to come in formal attire suited to a Prohibition era party. Do it! The more people are dressed appropriately, the more immersive the show feels. It’s incredibly fun when you can’t tell who the actors are and who the audience members are.
  • Play Favorites. While the show doesn’t explicitly recommend it, guests who enjoy stories may find that they get more from the show if they follow one of the actors and see how their evening plays out, at least for the first half of the show.
  • Coats are Fashionable. The apartment is air conditioned and the outside roof deck can get chilly at night. Bring a coat, wrap or other layer(s) that are easy to take on and off.
  • Play it Safe. The bar will be open after the show, so if you’d like to enjoy a libation on the rooftop, consider Ubering or having a designated driver.

Experiential Viewpoint Expression (E.V.E.):

Embodied, 1st person visual, 1st/3rd person narrative, non-entity/participant, mortal.

The show jumps in and out of different effectual and experiential POVs. In some moments, the characters introduce themselves, call you by name, ask you to do something and/or engage you in conversation, but in other scenes, the audience is clearly witnessing a private moment between characters and it’s as if they’re invisible.

Story Anchor(s):


While the scenes we saw did hint at stories, the combination of scenes that we saw didn’t add up to a clear plotline for any of the characters. We suspect it may be possible if you “play favorites” as recommended above; if you have—or had—the opportunity to do so, please report back to us!

The writer speaks.

Pillars of Game:

Voluntary Participation — check!

Goal — none.

Rules — audience members are not allowed to touch performers except if prompted to do so. Similary, audience members are asked to only speak when spoken to.

Feedback — performers may respond to audience members under the aforementioned conditions.

Conclusion: This isn’t a game, and it wasn’t intended to be.

Who Should Experience This?

Fans of Art Deco and the 1920s Prohibition Era. Those who are intrigued by the use of impressionistic movement in performance. People who enjoy amazing period costumes and the opportunity to dress up and go out.



The Look Club

Eve Weston and Jessica Kantor created The Look Club to discusses immersive media through their site and reviews of immersive stories.