February 26, 2014
By Anthony Rotunno | Entertainment

An Essential Night Out: <em>Queen of the Night</em>
Courtesy of The Paramount Hotel

New York’s Times Square is many things to many people, but a neighborhood where savvy New Yorkers choose to spend a night on the town is typically not one of them. That is, until a coterie of tastemakers (including Simon Hammerstein of The Box, Sleep No More producer Randy Weiner, culinary artist Jennifer Rubell and fashion designer Thom Browne) debuted Queen of the Night—an interactive dinner-theater performance in the form of an opulent, otherworldly debutante ball—at the Diamond Horseshoe, a meticulously restored ’30s-era subterranean ballroom beneath West 46th Street’s Paramount Hotel.

The approximately three-hour affair manages to incorporate the most unique elements of its creators’ individual projects but is more than the sum of its parts. Arrivals descend a dimly lit spiral staircase where they are instructed to wait until one of the actors, dressed as butlers in Browne-designed costumes, beckons them further inside. A cocktail reception allows guests to freely roam the ballroom (set with banquet tables arranged around a center stage) and its ancillary halls and chambers while sipping sweet, candy-colored drinks offered by servers who, at any moment, might grab your hand and lead you to a dark corner for an intimate, one-on-one encounter. “Keep your eyes and mind open,” whispered one after dragging me to a secluded nook and pinning me against the wall.

Dinner (a Flintstones-size slab of short ribs, platters of lobsters or a roasted pig served on a spit) is theatrically presented family style as part of the main event: a high-energy, high-volume acrobatic and gymnastic show that’s part Eyes Wide Shut, part Cirque du Soleil. While decidedly over the top, every element of Queen of the Night is expertly executed, resulting in a compelling—not campy—experience that is as revolutionary as the notion of (gasp) having a good time in the heart of Times Square. Through April 6; 235 W. 46th St.; 866-811-4111;