‘Theatre for One’ returns to Big Apple

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‘Theatre for One’ returns to Big Apple

NEW YORK - Does this sound too good to be true? You can now catch a great show in an intimate theater smack in the heart of bustling Times Square put on by a Tony Award-winner. Plus, there’s the cost: free.

That unbelievable proposition is a reality this week as “Theatre for One” returns for its second year, parking a 4-foot-by-8 foot portable theater near the TKTS booth in Duffy Square and inviting one audience member at a time to see one short play performed by a single actor.

Here’s how it works: Five actors and at least one musical act will perform 5-minute-to-10-minute pieces in rotation on a first-come-first-served basis during a six-day stand that started Tuesday and ends Sunday.

Each lucky audience member slips into a section of the theater and waits until a partition rises, revealing a performer who then begins his or her short piece. Which performer the audience sees is largely the luck of the draw, adding to this unique theatrical event.

“A lot of what happens is unique to every audience member,” says scenic designer Christine Jones, who conceived and leads the project. “Both the actor and the audience member are equally invested in it.”

Actor Dallas Roberts credits Jones with creating a very powerful theatrical experience for both visitor and actor. “She’s done an amazing thing distilling it to just its bare essence.”

There will be a musical guest or two that haven’t been revealed. Last year, Billie Joe Armstrong left an unwitting Green Day fan jumping with joy when he came face-to-face with his idol and got a private concert.

Sitting facing someone else in the world’s smallest theater - complete with red-padded walls and soft lighting - is a lot like being in a confession booth, peep show or even an elevator. The performer feeds off the audience, making it seem different from a mere monologue.

“There’s something about a monologue that feels like it’s a performer delivering something. And this to me feels like a shared story,” Jones says. “There’s a reciprocal event happening.”

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