Like Sleep No More, Queen of the Night or the original of it’s kind Tamara, The Grand Paradise seeks to immerse you in its world. Part Fantasy Island and part new age philosophy, we have entered a world were the Fountain of Youth has given way to a hedonistic, voyeuristic search for the meaning of life. Set in a Florida resort, late 1970s you are guided through a one-on-one or small group interaction that give you the freedom to choose and think about the paths you have taken in life. No one will have the same experience, as my friend and I found out when we disembarked.
The performance runs two-hour’s and you check your coat, purses and bags at the door. Make sure you are in comfortable shoes, as you stand a lot, but in all honesty it is not as bad as that sounds. Here you will enter Shangri-La, be asked to tempt your deepest longings and experience intimate encounters. You will be separated from your group, only to be reunited. My experiance was enhanced by the performer Rebekah Morin whose sultry voice and ability to engage lead me on two adventures.
Set in a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Bushwick at 383 Troutman Street with a total of 20 performing in each show and 60 guests per performance, this is one unique experience. There are several rooms, tiki huts, beaches, a bar, rooms and a tank that is filled with water and performers. This is part dance-theater, with a outline of text and psychedelic music composed by Sean Hagerty. The opening number sung by Elizabeth Carena, is quite lovely. As the guest enter so does a family consisting of a mom and a dad who are going through a midlife crises and a daughters ready to be sexually awakened. You can follow the family member of your choice, explore on your own or be guided into experiences by the cast members, which is what I choose to do. A sensual hand massage with the fates being washed away, to charting my life, playing beach ball or learning about the passage of time as death became discussed and thought about were the highlights.
What makes this show so unique was it was not commercially produced. The financing came from two partners of the real estate developers Brooklyn Home Company, Zach Stern and Bill Caleo and $73,354 was raised on Kickstarter.
The set is an amazing piece of production design by company members Zach Morris, Tom Pearson, and Jennine Willett and scenic design by Elisabeth Svenningsen.
The company is called Third Rail and started with “Then She Fell” in 2010. They are running “The Grand Paradise” simultaneous and I look forward to seeing “Then She Fell,” which is based on the Alice and Wonderland, books, at The Kingsland Ward at St. Johns a three-floor, century-old institutional facility at 195 Maujer Street, Brooklyn.
The Grand Paradise: Third Rail in Bushwick, Brooklyn at 383 Troutman Street. Plays Tuesday – Sunday at 7pm and 10:30pm.
Cover photo: Tara O’Con Photograph by Darial Sneed
Full Cast list:
Mom – Carly Berrett-Plagianakos
Dad – Simon Thomas-Train
Older Daughter – Erika Boudreau-Barbee
Younger Daughter – Kate Ladenheim
Boyfriend – Jeff Sykes
Siren – Elizabeth Carena
Midas – Roxanne Kidd
Cabana Boy – Justin Lynch
Venus – Jessy Smith
The Lady – Marissa Nielsen-Pincus
The Gentleman – Parker Murphy
Jett – Rebekah Morin
Activities Director – Alberto Denis
Libertine – Bryan Strimpel
Aqua Twin Girl – Elisa Davis
Aqua Twin Boy – Matthew Albert
Lifeguard – Zach Martens
William, a hustler – Zach McNally
Grace, a hustler – Katrina Reid
Farrah, a hustler – Lauren Muraski