new york city

The Grand Paradise

Nicole Voris

Oliver and I spent the weekend in New York City.  We had a wonderful time, got to spend time with family and friends, see art, and work with incredibly talented people.  I wanted to use this post though, to tell you about an amazing show we got to experience.

Oliver and I have been wanting to attend an immersive theater show for a while now.  When we planned our trip to NYC, one of the first things I did was buy tickets to The Grand Paradise.  If you don't know what immersive theater is,  it's a lot like what it sounds like.  As opposed to going to a theater, sitting in seats, and watching the show take place on the stage, with immersive theater, the entire building is the stage and you get to be in the story.  

Jessy Smith, foreground, and Erik Abbott-Main in “The Grand Paradise.”     CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

Jessy Smith, foreground, and Erik Abbott-Main in “The Grand Paradise.” CreditSara Krulwich/The New York Times

The Grand Paradise is a show set in a 1970's beach resort.  I don't want to give too much away, but the show explores themes of growing as a person, exploring desires, and the philosophy of being human.  The dancing, singing, and acting was incredible.  What I found so amazing about it is that the show blurs the lines of reality.  I didn't expect that I would lose the sense of being just an observer.  I truly felt that I was a guest at this beach resort and was interacting with their quirky staff.  

What to expect at an immersive theater show:

- Dress comfortably.  It goes against theater logic to not wear a fabulous outfit and heels, but you really want to be comfortable.  You'll be moving around a lot, and often in the dark.  I chose to wear a 70's jumpsuit to fit in with the theme of the show.  For shoes I chose to play it safe and wore white sneakers, but I would have been fine in flats or clogs.  Oliver wore nice jeans, a nice shirt, and nikes and was comfortable moving around. 

- Be prepared to be separated from your group.  Embrace it!  For Grand paradise we generally were separated into groups of 2-4,  if you're lucky you may get a one on one experience with a performer, which a few people in our group (myself included), got to do.  I encourage you to embrace getting lost with a few strangers.  It helps make the world feel more real.  At the end you can all get together and relay what you got to do and experience!

- Push yourself out of your comfort zone.  Myself and all the people who attended with me were all performers, so I think we fell into the participation easier.  I could tell some other audience members weren't as comfortable.  I encourage you to embrace the strangeness and not to be self conscious.  It'll make your experience so much better!

Elizabeth Carena and Tori Sparks.  Photograph by Third Rail Projects.

Elizabeth Carena and Tori Sparks. 
Photograph by Third Rail Projects.

The Grand Paradise is now playing through December 31st.  I highly recommend seeing it!  If you do see it or have already seen it let us know what you think in the comments!  If you've seen other immersive theater shows let us know about your experiences there too!

To learn more about the show and buy tickets follow the link below:

The Grand Paradise