Welcome to The Grand Paradise--take the trip of a lifetime--travel back to a tropical resort in the 1970s where a fountain of youth purports to quench visitors' deepest longings--and then some.
If you think you've done immersive theater before, think again. Other (incredible) productions like Sleep No More and Queen of the Night may tease audience members with the occasional interaction but at The Grand Paradise, prepare to become part of the show. Third Rail (known for its hit, Then She Fell) curates personal and unforgettable moments for every audience member--ready or not.
The set is stunning and sweeps you away to another place. Enter a mystical world where you're greeted by a gorgeous girl flirting with you from her underwater tank. Next, a handsome man places a garland of flowers around your shoulders and you're left to wander the set for a bit before the cast arrives. The set marries sex, mystery and tiki-island charm all at once. Stumble into a boudoir, cabana and even a beach (complete with sand floor) during your stay.
The music is hauntingly beautiful (inspired by Fleetwood Mac's Rumours and composed by Sean Hagerty) and there is something very "Rocky Horror Picture Show" about the entire experience. When you realize how much interaction there is going to be you may want to escape--at first. However, by the end (or perhaps the next day) once you've had the chance to digest the experience and gain an appreciation for its unique je ne sais quoi, you'll want to return. If you're looking for something fun and bizarre all at once--you've found it.
The show is actually a sequel to a performance that took place in Governor's Island called Roadside Attraction, which was about a family road trip. The Grand Paradise picks up with the same family (loosely based on one of the artistic director's real family vacation) who is jetsetting once again. The family is experiencing chaos (aren't we all?). The children appear primed for a journey of sexual awakening during their coming of age while the parents appear to be stuck in a rut amidst midlife crises. Like most interactive theater experiences, you are able to follow different characters around and experience their stories. There are many rooms and characters--the cast is comprised of 20 performers in each show so you have your work cut out of you if you want to see as much as possible.
Be prepared to be separated from your party-- you may end up locked away with a seductress, at a sexy nightclub, sharing a drink with a stranger, rubbing down a lifeguard with suntan lotion or even in the cabana boy's room for a pillow fight (complete with Star Wars sheets).
A few things to note for optimal enjoyment--if you loathe awkward interactions or touching, be the last to enter the theater. Instead, take your time and have a couple of drinks beforehand--or four. Know that you may experience sensitive sexual situations and nudity (male too) so if you have delicate sensibilities, you've been warned.
If you're still uncomfortable, there is a bar inside. You'll have to check all your belongings at the beginning of the show so don't forget to hold onto your credit card. Wear comfortable shoes because you're on your feet for the entire two hours and there are limited opportunities to sit. My final wisdom is to let your judgment go and just enjoy the show. Take it all in--the sex, music, mystery and weirdness.
If it sounds like the most bizarre experience ever--you're right--it is. And now you're ready. Escape reality and head to the Grand Paradise, tickets start at $115 per person. Audiences are limited to about 60 people. Performances are roughly 2 hours.
For more information, visit The Grand Paradise online.
For more great advice about New York City, visit Travelingpanties.com