What You Need to Know About The Grand Paradise: The Latest Immersive Theater Spectacle in New York

Best Interactive Live Theater

Credit: Third Rail Projects

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 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 their hit Then She Fell) curates personal and unforgettable moments for every audience member–ready or not.

And as always, FYI I visited during a special performance for media so I did not pay for my ticket.

Best Immersive Theater

Credit: Darial Sneed

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 trip. 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 I realized how much interaction there was going to be I must admit to wanting to escape–at first. However, by the end (or perhaps the next day) I had digested the experience and gained an appreciation for its unique je ne sais quoi. If you’re looking for something fun and bizarre all at once–you’ve found it.

Immersive Theater Brooklyn

Credit: Darial Sneed

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 vacations) who is vacationing 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.

Credit: Darial Sneed

Credit: Darial Sneed

Be prepared to be torn 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).

The Grand Paradise

Credit: Adam Jason Photography

A few things to note for optimal enjoyment–if you loathe awkward interactions, be the last to be invited in from the lobby 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.

Credit: Third Rail Projects

Credit: Third Rail Projects

If you’re still uncomfortable, there is a bar inside. Bottoms up.You’ll have to check all your belongings at the beginning of the show so don’t forget 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.

Best Shows to See New York City

Credit: Darial Sneed

If it sounds like the most bizarre experience ever–then 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.

Credit: Third Rail Projects

Credit: Third Rail Projects

For more information, visit The Grand Paradise online.

I visited during a special performance for media so I did not pay for my ticket.

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