Follow that rabbit!

Alice, the perpetually-in-peril protagonist of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” is about to go on another adventure. Only this time to see her you’ll need to take that famed rabbit hole and connect with a Brooklyn-bound L train. Next stop, the Jefferson Street Station in Bushwick, then a quick walk to Theatre XIV on Troutman Street where you’ll meet up with the Caterpillar, Tweedles Dum and Dee, the Mad Hatter, and more in Company XIV’s remount of “Queen of Hearts,” which begins previews on March 1. And if you thought Alice’s adventures were twisted before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

For those unfamiliar, Company XIV offers unique theatrical experiences that reside at the intersection of high art and low brow entertainment with a signature fusion of circus arts, burlesque, classical ballet, opera, cabaret, and cheeky eroticism. 


Return to Wonderland

“I’m thrilled to put Company XIV’s unique stamp on Lewis Caroll’s beloved story,” says Company XIV founder and director Austin McCormick, does double-duty as the evening’s choreographer. “So many patrons and performers have such a fondness for the Alice books, and I’ve reimagined our version as a whimsical, decadent, and naughty adventure.” 

The 2024 mounting of “Queen of Hearts” marks Alice’s second run in Bushwick. “The previous version of the show really resonated with fans in 2019. At the time it was our longest running show,” McCormick said. “We are thrilled to bring it back with even more surprises, original music, and delicious cocktails.”

Company XIV’s performing troupe for “Queen of Hearts” is made of multi-hyphenate underground and emerging talent like LEXXE, who plays Alice and wrote the original music used in the piece. And McCormick had high praise for his collaborator and star.

“LEXXE has written several fabulous original songs and plays Alice, is such a talented songwriter and performer,” McCormick said. “Her classical background and musical sensibilities make her the perfect collaborator for this production. I’m thrilled and excited for the world to hear her new music.”


A Magical Spinoff

Company XIV was founded in 2006 and quickly caught on with both critics and fans. In 2017, after a decade of operating in various spaces in Manhattan’s East and West Village, the troupe took up residence in a former plastics factory on Troutman Street, in Bushwick. Christened Theatre XIV, the former industrial space was ingeniously converted into an intimate 150–seat post-baroque jewel box space that pays homage to olde-timey vaudeville with more than a nod to Paris’ Belle Epoque era by way of the court of Louis XIV..

Five years and a pandemic later, in 2022 when most artistic organizations were scaling back operations, Company XIV opened a second space in Bushwick around the corner on Wyckoff Avenue in a defunct Depression-era junk shop formerly used to melt lead. The second (more intimate space) has been tricked out especially to house “Cocktail Magique,” which is the company’s longest continuously running production.

Hailed by The New York Times as “intoxicating,” “Cocktail Magique” harkens back to the Prohibition era. Like the productions in its sister theater, “Cocktail Magique” features specialty cirque acts, but with more of a Coney Island sideshow spin. Bottles are juggled, swords are swallowed, knives are thrown, and lots and lots of cocktails seemingly appear out of thin air.


The Bushwick Arts Legacy

Both Company XIV theaters are welcome additions to a neighborhood that has been experiencing a cultural renaissance not seen in New York City since the heyday of the East Village arts scene several decades ago.

Visitors to the area stand in awe of large-scale eye-popping street art programmed by The Bushwick Collective. Evenings at nightlife mecca House of Yes have redefined nightlife in the city. And two blocks away from Company XIV’s theater sits a new $2.2 million space built for experimental performing arts incubator The Bushwick Starr. Company XIV’s producers freely acknowledge how these organizations paved the way for their success. “Our entire operation is indebted to cultural pioneers in the neighborhood,” they say. 

Bushwick is indeed a wonderland.


Queen of Hearts and Cocktail Magique play five performances per week from Thursday through Sunday. For tickets, directions, and more information, visit the Company XIV website. Leave the kids at home. Both shows are for the 21 and over crowd.