Behind the scenes at La Perle by Franco Dragone

We meet the stars at their training centre in Dubai Studio City

When the Middle East’s first permanent aqua-theatre show, La Perle, was announced last year, there was certainly more than a ripple of intrigue as to how such a project would take shape.

And Time Out was invited down to meet some of the 65-strong cast drawn from 23 nationalities and see them being put through their paces at their Dubai Studio City training centre.

As soon as you walk into the vast, hangar-like venue, you’re immediately struck by the enormity of the project – and this is only the beginning.

La Perle is the brainchild of much-lauded theatre director Franco Dragone, whose work with Cirque du Soleil saw him rise to prominence as one of the world’s foremost exponents of cutting-edge productions.

And his influence on this forthcoming Dubai aqua-theatre spectacular, set to open at a purpose-built, 1,300-seat venue in Al Habtoor City this summer, is evident as we’re given a tour of the practise site as the various multi-talented performers are trained by the expert team. From slack lines to diving pools, tumble floors to lofty, winched acrobatic swings attached to bungee ropes, this place is a hive of athletic, acrobatic activity.

Samuel Orme, the show’s general stage manager, has a huge task on his hands, but it’s one he is clearly relishing as he beams while talking of how each cast member has been learning new tricks, as it were, and expanding their repertoire to become multi-disciplined performers.

And resident artistic director, Tara Young, a veteran of Broadway who has worked with Dragone before in China, exudes an incredible passion for the mammoth project set to be revealed to the Dubai public.

“We’re doing something that has never been done before,” she says. “And of course, an aqua-theatre is magnificent. Yes, Franco Dragone has done water shows before, but this one is going to be even more special because he’s so innovative and he’s always eager to break ground. Why we love working with him is because he 100 percent pushes us to the next level. There’s a real honour there, and everyone here feels that.”

And you’ll all soon have the honour of seeing this aquatic spectacular in Al Habtoor City.

PS. They’ve built a huge, rather scary-looking puppet for the show but we were sworn to secrecy about that.
Dhs400. From Thu Aug 31, Tue-Fri, 7pm and 9.30pm; Sat, 4pm and 7pm. La Perle, Al Habtoor City, www.laperle.com (04 437 0123).

Click here to book your tickets to La Perle, and by using this link (only from Time Out Dubai), you can get a free upgrade from silver to gold seating, saving you Dhs200.


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