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Accomplice: New York

While on my lunch break at work, I received a mysterious call on my cell phone. It was the notorious crime boss, Mr. Salamone. He said he had a job for me. A special job. It was dangerous but, if I pulled it off, I'd be - in his words - a "Made Man."

Besides, one does not refuse an offer from Mr. Salamone.

He gave me an address down by the docks where I would meet one of his associates. The following afternoon at precisely 5:00, I arrived at the South Street Seaport where I was greeted by a man in a black suit who called himself "Louie." It turned out that Mr. Salamone and some of his boys were skipping the country, and my job was to track down the half dozen Mafiosos who were scattered throughout southern Manhattan, and provide them with the plane tickets they'd need to reach Mr. Salamone's private Island.

Louie gave me an envelope full of clues that would lead me to the first guy, and off I went on my adventure through the criminal underworld.

Well, alright, I didn't actually join the Mob; I was attending a show called The Accomplice: New York. Accomplice is part interactive theatre, part walking tour, part scavenger hunt and sometimes even feels like a live-action game of Grand Theft Auto.

After deciphering my first batch of clues I (and the other seven audience members in my group) ended up in a bar near the seaport, where we met our next contact, who gave us a new set of clues, which led us to the following contact, who, in turn, gave us clues to find the next one. All of these new Mafia pals were colorful, amusing characters who you might find in a film noir movie, or Scorsese flick. All of the mobsters were played by actors, skilled in improvisation (some of whom vigorously denied being in the mob until we gave them Mr. Salamone's secret message). Each was stationed at a prominent location in lower Manhattan (Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall Park, etc.), and there were numerous local businesses whose employees were in on act, too.

The show takes about three hours to complete, although time depends on how quickly you and your fellow adventurers can decipher your clues, how fast you can walk from the Brooklyn Bridge to Chinatown, and how much time you spend bantering with the wise guys.

The Mr. Salamone who called me the day before was actually Tom Salamon, who co-created the show with his sister Betsy Salamon-Sufott. The two came up with the idea after taking a walking tour of Manhattan, and thought it would be fun to add a storyline to such sightseeing, putting the sightseer in the middle of their own adventure tale.

"It's like everyone in the city is a extra in your story", Mr. Salamon says. He's right; as my group went about the city looking for our mysterious contacts, we could never be sure who was part of the show, and who just happened to be walking by: Was that creepy guy at the pay phone in on the act, or was he just a creepy guy making a phone call? Was the cop at the Mulberry Street Cigar Store a real cop, or a well-costumed actor?

Accomplice: New York started in 2005 and has been successful enough to spawn an upcoming sequel. There are certainly more stories to be told in this unique manner, hinted at by a few red herrings left at the end of the first show (will the enigmatic albino midget referred to in the first show make an appearance in the sequel?).

Theatre fans will most likely enjoy the unique presentation of the project, but Accomplice is a perfect way to show out-of-towners around the city and expose them to some of the more interesting aspects of New York (like finding out what is the most disgusting live animal you can buy at a Chinatown grocery shop). It goes without saying that this is a must see event for Godfather fans too.

You can find out more about Accomplice: New York at www.accomplicenewyork.com, but if you tell anyone that I told you all this, you'll be sleeping with the fishes. Capiche?

Accomplice: New York features James Feuer, Ben Knox, Billy Beyrer, Joe Luongo, Brendan Irving, Corrine Palermo and John Cannetella

. Groups of eight begin each half hour between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., Fridays through Sundays. Advance purchase of tickets ($45 each) is required; purchase through www.zerve.com or by phone at 212-209-3370.


-- Charles Battersby


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