It's one of their biggest in-house productions so far. Billed as an "interactive theater" where tales from 'Pirates of the Caribbean', 'Princess Bride', and 'One Piece' intertwine with legendary stories of real-life buccaneers. The are encouraging folks to dress as their favorite pirate and be part of the lore.
It's a big production with a huge cast, so naturally, tickets aren't super cheap. 388rmb per person, but they have packets that include food and drinks. Check the ticketing page. We've seen some of Pearl's past immersive shows, which we could describe as "campy" — but in a good way, as they are genuinely a good time. They're definitely not like Sleep No More; the affair is more lighthearted and its intended that way. And unlike the silent interactions in Sleep No More, you can actually converse with the characters in Pearl's productions, leaving you with the sense that you may have had a small impact on the story.
We caught up with the creators of the show, Brian Wang and Eric Paci.
Can you tell us a bit about your new show Pirates of the Pearl.
Brian: Our new show is an interactive theater experience with a cast of around 30 actors, dancers and singers performing throughout the Pearl theater. We have an assortment of pirates, including Jack Sparrow, Inigo Montoya, Blackbeard, and Madame Zheng, who is based on the true-life tale of the real Chinese Pirate Queen. We have warring factions, tales of heartbreak and true love, and a pirate's den of gamblers, thieves, seductive sirens, fortune-tellers, and other rogues all vying for treasure and power.
"Pirates of the Pearl" unfolds on the night the Pirate Republic is formed. The narrative focuses on King Pirate, wealthy and manipulative, engaged to Buttercup for strategic reasons; Inigo Montoya, a justice-seeking pirate driven by the murder of his father; Zheng Yi's Red Flag Fleet, manipulated by his power-hungry wife, Madame Zheng; and Jack Sparrow, a lone pirate who is secretly loved by Buttercup. The plot thickens as King Pirate hatches a scheme to consolidate power, Montoya gets entangled in these machinations, and Madame Zheng maneuvers to gain control. As these plots intertwine, a series of events unfurls that will change the power dynamics of the pirate republic forever.
For those that haven't seen any shows at The Pearl yet, what's the atmoshphere like. Is it an immersive show ?
Eric: The Pearl is a spectacular venue for our brand of immersive theater. It was originally a Buddhist temple, renovated into a burlesque cabaret theater, with several balcony boxes and a third floor private room. Our interactive shows allow for more spontaneous moments of delight or shock, as our audience members and performers interact with each other in an open environment, unlike most immersive shows that are more tightly controlled and scripted. The atmosphere we strive to create is to transport our audience to a different time and world, where we can all play different roles for a memorable evening of escapist fun.
Lets take a look behind the scene. What does it take to produce a show an immersive show like this in Shanghai? How long have you been working on it?
Brian: The original idea for a pirate-themed show came 6 years ago, when we produced an immersive show on a cruise ship on the Huangpu river (Ship of Dreams: the Titanic Experience). We later produced and directed Moulin Dream twice at the Pearl and after our last show two years ago, we revived the idea of Pirates. We had already cast the show and had begun rehearsals in Spring 2021 when Shanghai went into lockdown. So, the show was postponed and eventually cancelled. Over the past two years, we remained hopeful that we could resurrect the show, but we also needed to see who was still in Shanghai because we lost about two-thirds of our original cast.
However, we have been fortunate to pull together a new group of passionate, spirited performers who are all eager to play along and join our collaborative storytelling endeavor. We spent the past two months rehearsing and after our opening night on October 21st, the show continues to evolve with the unique interactions with the audience.
What' about the the future, what upcoming concepts do you have in the pipeline?
Eric: We might bring back Moulin Dream because The Pearl is a perfect venue for a 1930s Gatsby era performance. There will also be an entirely new audience who hasn't seen it before. We have also played around with some new original concepts, like a sci-fi based futuristic show, or a fantasy-folktale themed immersive show. It mostly depends on our actors and audience, who are constantly sharing their ideas on what they would most enjoy. Who knows? Maybe we will be back on a real boat on the Bund doing Titanic again!
Pirates of the Pearl has 3 more shows coming up on November 4, 11 and 18. Tickets available on SmartTicket, click below to purchase.