Moulin Dream: A 1920s Shanghai Interactive Theater Experience

By Sophie Steiner, October 12, 2021

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Riding on the coattails of last year's performance success, The Pearl is launching a better, bolder version of Moulin Dream – a live interactive performance that weaves together more than 28 unique storylines from Moulin Rouge and Dream of the Red Chamber in a 1920s Shanghai setting.

We sat down with co-directors Eric Paci and Brian Wong to learn what visitors can expect from this all-encompassing, hypnotic experience, as well as exclusive info about new characters and storylines. 


What is Moulin Dream?
Moulin Dream is an interactive musical experience. We combined elements of the vibrant film Moulin Rouge with the Chinese work of literature Dream of the Red Chamber, and set our mashup performance in 1920s Shanghai, with a nonstop playlist of contemporary and classic songs. 


How is it different from other plays, musicals or shows?
Traditional shows are focused solely on the rectangular stage, as if actors were performing on a screen. Moulin Dream is more like an open-world video game with various routes and rooms to explore. There’s something for everyone – from sensual cabaret shows and breathtaking aerialists to hit pop songs and golden oldies. 


For the romantics in attendance, we have several star-crossed lovers to follow. For folks who are more interested in the unique history of Shanghai, they can choose to follow various speakeasy characters and delve into the underworld. The audience can expect a night of constant entertainment and surprises, as if they were transported back in time to 1920s Shanghai.


What is an interactive performance like for audience members? 
Our performances are up close and intimate so that the audience can feel the emotions of our actors on a deeper, more visceral level. In our interactive theater performance guests are encouraged to participate, so our actors must be prepared for the unexpected on any given night, all while staying in character.  


We train our performers in dramatic improvisation, and our goal is not to make our audience laugh, but to create an authentic connection. Our actors are encouraged to play with our guests, and we invite attendees to dress up and play along as well.

Every night, our show evolves because of the nuances brought out by new audience interactions. 


How did you get involved in producing and directing? 
I started my first theater group in college over 20 years ago. Upon arriving in Shanghai in 2011, I met Eric Paci, as we were fellow actors in a memorable theater adaptation of Fight Club at the old Arkham nightclub.

After collaborating on over a dozen theater shows in Shanghai, including The Princess Bride, Hamlet, Glengarry Glen Ross and Reservoir Dogs, we co-directed Ship of Dreams: The Titanic Experience, our first foray into interactive theater.  

After we gathered 30+ actors and 200+ audience members on a cruise ship along the Bund for 20 nights, we gained the confidence that we could truly bring any of our dream shows to life.


Why is the Pearl the ideal location for Moulin Dream?
The Pearl’s venue is absolutely beautiful and lends itself perfectly to our interactive experience that unfolds over several stages across three floors of a burlesque cabaret theater. The unique ambience at The Pearl allows our actors, dancers and singers to use the entire building as our stage, instead of the traditional proscenium.

We also completely transform a special VIP area into a secret speakeasy hideaway with opportunities for period-specific entertainment.


Tell us more about the main plot lines to follow in Moulin Dream and some of the key characters storylines to follow. 
Admirers of Baz Luhrmann’s film should follow Christian and Satine’s characters as they move through the theater. Aficionados of Dream of Red Chamber should seek out Baoyu and Daiyu, the star-crossed lovers. 

Both stories share common themes of beauty and sadness, artistic performances, dream sequences, forbidden love, admiration of women and heavy drinking. 



Those interested in stories of power, fame and fortune should seek out the Duke, Phoenix and Pacino. Or even better advice, just follow anyone who looks or acts a bit shady.

The actors encourage attendees to ask questions, support or advise the performers directly, helping shape the performance into something new and deeper each night. 


How is this show unique to Shanghai?
The rich culture and vibrant buzz of Shanghai is reflected in every visual, auditory and experiential aspect of Moulin Dream. We have attended immersive theater performances all over the world, from 10-member audience intimate shows in NYC to immersive opera in a Venetian townhome. 


Moulin Dream is an amalgamation of all the lessons we learned and moments we enjoyed from shows around the world, especially the interactive element that allows audience members to join in the fun.

We also take full advantage of the historic Pearl theater setting and our unique backstory of Shanghai’s diverse International Settlement days. 


To book your tickets to Moulin Dream today, click here or scan the QR code below. And great news, the first 20 for opening night, October 17, are discounted to the special price of RMB288. Tickets WILL sell out fast for this, so jump on them right away!


Opening night is Sunday, October 17 and then every Saturday thereafter: October 23 & 30, November 6 & 13. VIP dinner and drinks packages are also available for the coveted balconies and more comfortable booth seating.


The Pearl is offering a pair of tickets to Moulin Dream to one lucky That's Shanghai reader for the opening night, October 17. For your chance to win, simply share this article on your Moments with the caption ‘That’s what I want!’, take a screenshot and send it to our WeChat account (ID: shanghai_plus) along with your email address, delivery address and phone number.

Not already a follower of the official That’s Shanghai WeChat account? Scan the QR code below:


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