Meet the Magnificent Grant-oh! Buchwald

By Ned Kelly, January 20, 2023

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We love Grant-oh! Buchwald. Everyone loves Pappa-G. He's one of the good guys. A Shanghai mensch.

For those not in the know, he is the magical red beard behind The Pearl, a converted Buddhist temple in Shanghai that now serves as a theater, burlesque and live music space, and a must-visit for all visitors to the city.

So, with travel now back on the agenda, we’d thought it was high time we introduced him, and The Pearl, to a China-wide audience. You can thank us later.

How did you first come involved in The Pearl?
I was one of the dumb misguided investors waaaaay back in 2008 that renovated the space and opened as Chinatown. It was an awful name for a club in Shanghai, but they had been a successful burlesque show troupe that had been performing in NYC and Vegas, before coming here and sucking me into their world.

Chinatown was amazing at the time – and created quite a stir – but only lasted a couple of years, and I walked away from the investment as I could see it sinking fast. 

Then, in 2013, Chinatown headliner, Frank Bray, and well-known Bourbon importer, Glenn Thain, approached me with reopening as The Pearl.

I was still licking my wounds from losing all my investment at Chinatown, but luckily I was working full time with Ferrari as their Asian photographer, so I had money to burn and I’m a total sucker for the space.

The venue is pure magic and there is nowhere else like it. When you come visit, ask for me and I’m happy to give you a tour and tell you the history of the building dating back to 1931.



How has the last year been? (Sorry, but we have to ask…)
As you can imagine, 2022 has been truly terrible for The Pearl and every F&B owner and small business in Shanghai. It’s a miracle that we have survived, along with our staff and our team of 17 in-house performers.

But I’m proud to say The Pearl is truly a family and we’ve helped each other as best we can to get through this in one piece. I love them all and respect their strength and their passion to keep our dream alive… and Shanghai is such an amazing vibrant city, she will rebound fast and soon we will all be rocking again!

About these shows – which are your most popular?
By far our live music tribute shows like Queen, ABBA, Adele, Taylor Swift, Linkin Park – and that is because our Red Stars band is like no other I have ever worked with. They are truly incredibly talented and the hardest working musicians I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.

I’m happy to say our new dinner show concept has really been successful as well. Our Moulin Specatulaire and now our Greatest Show production are amazing. We’ve sold out every show and been receiving rave reviews.

We have other shows in the works but they obviously keep getting delayed… because, well, you know…



So which is your personal favorite?
This has become impossible for me to say because our team just keeps raising the bar. I was in actual tears when the Red Stars did Led Zeppelin a couple years ago, but that now seems like nothing compared to their Pink Floyd show last year, with eight musicians on stage and full graphics on the walls.

We even had our crazy guitarist, Alex, doing an aerial guitar solo during ‘Learning to Fly.’ It was amazing!

On the other side of things, I just love our drag shows. The outrageous creativity is ‘Fabulous’! No two shows are ever the same.

I think this is why I truly love this time in my life doing this. To work with so many great talents and doing something unique every night is just pure magic and keeps wanting to fight to survive!

What inspires you and the team when it comes to coming up with the shows?
Admittedly, this has been a battle over the years. Been many heated discussions with mostly good ideas, and a few flops. Though over the past couple years, the team and I have really come together.

We often gather at Zeitgeist every month or two and discuss ideas. I ask everyone to bring up all ideas they have. The good, the bad, the outrageously insane. Everything.

Nothing ever gets decided as these meetings always end up with us laughing and drinking until close, but all those ideas go into a creative pot that stews until the moment is right. Most ideas need some time to develop.

When time is right, they seem to come together and it’s tremendous. To be honest, the team has gotten so good, I don’t need to be as hands-on as I was before. We’ve built up a mutual respect and trust among all our teams to create great experiences.

I just need to step in and reign in the budgets, from time to time. Hah!



Any new shows lined up?
Always! We have a Metallica Tribute coming up in January. And I’m working on a bunch of new Tribute shows I don’t want to mention yet.

On the Cabaret side, the team is in rehearsals, again and yet again (thanks to you know what…) for Cococsanti’s interpretation of 六, the musical (not sure I should write the English for copyright reasons. Hah!)

Also, we’ll be working on a new original musical all about Taylor Swift. Also, it’s not officially announced, but we really hope we can do our original fully immersive Pirates show that was to happen a year ago, before, well, you know…

The Pirates immersive show is a huge production and really hope we can do it before summer.

So do we, Grant-oh! – you old sea dog! So, in one sentence (or four) – why should people head to The Pearl?
Now, more than ever, we need to escape reality, forget about the outside world and have fun and be entertained.

Personally speaking, I’ve yet to find any venue that can entertain better than we can at The Pearl! Come early for dinner, enjoy a show and go home feeling inspired.

That’s why I’m the proudest Pearl Papa-G that there ever was!

In Shanghai for CNY? Check out these shows...

Queen Tribute Concert


Freddie has been brought back to life! Without doubt one of the best nights of entertainment this city has to offer, and your chance to sing along with all of Queen’s biggest hits. This show is always packed, so be sure to buy your tickets before they sell out!

Scan the QR to get your tickets now:


Fri Jan 20, 6pm doors, 8.30pm pre-show, 9.30pm show; RMB180 presale, RMB220 on the door.

Green Day Post Punk


The Pearl's Red Stars house band perform all Green Day's greatest hits, as well as the best from Offspring, Blink-182, Sum 41, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more!

Scan the QR to get your tickets now:


Sat Jan 21, 6pm doors, 8.30pm show; RMB150 presale, RMB180 on the door.

Ladies Rock: Lady Gaga Taylor Swift & Pink


A night of Ladies Rock with Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Pink, with doors at 9pm and the show starting at 9.30pm.

Scan the QR to get your tickets now:


Sun Jan 22, 6pm doors, 9pm show; RMB180 presale, RMB220 door.

East Meets West Drag Show @ The Pearl


Western hits collide on the Pearl stage! Shanghai’s drag queens curate the best of both worlds for a one-of-a-kind cross-cultural performance. Chinese New Year, no matter whether you love C-Pop hits or western top 40, you’ll find everything at East Meets West! 

Between acts The Pearl DJ will be grooving so be ready to spend the night dancing!

Scan the QR to get your tickets now:


Tue Jan 24, 6pm doors, 9pm show; RMB150 presale, RMB180 on the door.

Britney Spears vs Madonna


The Queens of Pop do battle as Britney Spears takes on Madonna. There will also be dancers and drag. Because, you know, Britney Spears and Madonna...

Scan the QR to get your tickets now:


Wed Jan 25, 6pm doors, 9pm show; RMB180 presale, RMB220 on the door.

RedBox Broadway


One for all you show tune fans – RedBox Broadway Cabaret dinner theater at The Pearl every Thursday night, an immersive Cabaret-Broadway-Movie Show Tune Night, with the actual stars from Chinese Broadway shows!

Enjoy a selection of hits, from classics like Phantom of the OperaChicago and Singing in the Rain, right up to modern tunes from HamiltonLala Land and The Greatest Showman, all performed live and complimented by professional costumes, lighting, direction and choreography to ensure an unforgettable experience.

READ MORE: RedBox Broadway Cabaret Dinner Theater at The Pearl!

Scan the QR to get your tickets now:


Thu 19 & 26, 6pm doors, 7.30-9pm show; RMB200 presale, RMB250 on the door.

Imagine Dragons vs C***p***


An imaginary battle of the bands at The Pearl sees American pop rockers Imagine Dragons take on post-Britpop alternative rockers C***p***.

Scan the QR to get your tickets now:


Thu Jan 26, 9pm doors, 9.30pm show; RMB150 presale, RMB180 on the door.

F#$K 2020 The Concert


The Pearl first did this show January 1, 2022 to forget the dread of 2021 and it was a huge success. A night of great music, friends and rocking celebration. So much so they brought it back this year!

It’s called 'Hair of the Dog' and The Pearl is your tonic. To get over the last year, we prescribe the F#$K 2022 Concert. On the menu is all sorts of rock and rock, with The Pearl’s Red Stars band taking you on a journey through music’s greatest hits as we celebrate the start of 2023.

Expect a delectable witches brew of classic rock, punk rock and 90s rock. No rock will be left unturned! Hits from bands such as AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix will be paired with the Ramones and the Offspring, then topped with some Nirvana and Linkin Park for good measure, making this one nasty cauldron of Hair of the Dog, ready to be delivered to your ears.

To start the new year off right, come on down to the Pearl!

Scan the QR to get your tickets now:


Fri Jan 27, 6pm doors, 9pm show; RMB150 presale, RMB180 on the door.

The British Invasion @ The Pearl


Celebrate all things British with the music from The Beatles, Eurythmics, Queen, Def Leppard, Oasis, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Pink Floyd, Elton John and more.

Scan the QR to get your tickets now:


Sat Jan 28, 6pm doors, 9pm show; RMB150 presale, RMB180 on the door.

The Pearl, 471 Zhapu Lu, by Wujin Lu 乍浦路471号, 近武进路.

[All images courtesy of Grant-oh! Buchwald]

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