News / Entertainment

From Bridgerton to Brunswick

Audiences can immerse themselves in the world’s hottest TV show over the next month

Nicolas Mena (Wilfred) and Alexandra Vladimirov (Maria) enact a scene from The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience.

Deborah Gough

Updated: Saturday, May 25, 2024

A DANK warehouse in Brunswick has undergone a magical makeover into a Regency-era royal palace to host an immersive audience experience over the next month.

The former packaging warehouse in Dawson Street will be home to the The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience, based on the immensely popular Netflix series and being produced for the first time outside of the United States.

At the Brunswick show, which began on Friday night, ticket holders to The Queen’s Ball are expected to frock up and play a part in the Bridgerton romance storyline for an interactive night out.

Audience members can freely move around the warehouse while a troupe of professional dancers and actors perform a Bridgerton-inspired story.

The cast will teach ballroom guests how to dance in the 18th century Regency style. Guests will also have a chance to be presented to the Queen (played by Brunswick resident Clare Chihambakwe) who will choose a new ‘Diamond’ of the ball each night (Hint for aspiring Diamonds: the Queen likes to see well-dressed subjects enjoying themselves).

Ball guests will be able to buy Bridgerton merchandise, drink themed cocktails, view one of the original costumes from the Netflix series and “sit” for a portrait.

The Queen (Clare Chihambakwe) and her lady-in-waiting (Beth Appiah Cain).

Since the first series of the historical romance aired in 2020, Bridgerton has become one of the most viewed programs in screen history.

The second season, which premiered in 2022, was the most viewed English-language series in Netflix’s history at the time it was first shown, debuting at number one on the platform in 92 countries.

The third season premiered earlier this month and has again been a smash hit.

Set during the early 1800s in an alternate London Regency era, the show is based on a series of novels by Julia Quinn and is known for its extravagant costumes, choreographed set pieces, and steamy sex scenes.

Netflix has developed live experiences for fans to be part of themed events for several of its most popular shows including Bridgerton, Stranger Things and soon to be added, Squid Game.

Netflix’s Life Experiences business developer Sarah McDonagh said Brunswick was the first place the The Queen’s Ball had been shown outside North America.

“We just feel that the Australian fan base is so strong, we could it anywhere in the country and they would drive to it,” McDonagh said.

“The fandom is so strong.”

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Fever Melbourne’s Brunswick venue, at 62 Dawson Street, was formerly the Lithco Packaging warehouse but opened as an exhibition space in September 2023. Most recently it staged a dinosaur experience. McDonagh said the Fever venue met the experience’s needs.

“This is a very technical show,” McDonagh said.

“You see the trusses behind you here. The show has certain height requirements and the building that we go into must fit the design,” she said.

The experience’s promoter is MG Live, formed by Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group in 2023. Australian Bridgerton Experience director Yvette Lee has worked with MG Live on several projects including the AFL Grand Final entertainment shows featuring KISS and Robbie Williams and the AFL Dreamtime in May, along with theatre and television shows. This is a new style of show though, involving strong audience participation from the moment guests enter the flowered archway entrance.

“The Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers will be handed out to you. The valets will be roaming encouraging people into the experience,” Lee said.

“There are so many different activities that people can do on the perimeter, but very soon after they enter, the actual performance begins.

“The performance is divided between guest-inclusive activities, where they get to learn the 18th century Regency dances.

“Then they get to stand back and watch this beautiful love story between the young couple, watch it evolve from meeting to flirting to eventually falling in love and getting the acceptance from the Queen.

“But everyone’s here to be chosen as the Diamond of the evening which is what the Bridgerton fans will be doing. The Queen’s eye is on them all the time. She sits on the throne and they have many experiences where they get to be surrounded by her and perform for her.

“Then at the end of the night, the lucky person is chosen.”

When The Queen’s Ball was held in the US, guests often got into the spirit by dressing in Regency-influenced fashion.

This has been Lee’s first foray into Regency-style dancing and she chose dancers who were also good actors and able to carry the story. The 18th century dance style is closely aligned to ballroom, and Dancing with the Stars dancer Alexandra Vladimirov plays Maria, while Nicholas Mena plays Wilfred.

On Saturday, the production recorded its first Australian wedding proposal when Gursehaj Singh successfully popped the question in front of 450 people to Harleen Kaur, who earlier in the night was picked as the evening’s Diamond of the Ball .

The Queen’s Ball: Bridgerton Experience tickets are available Friday to Sunday. The experience will run from May 24 to June 23. Ticket prices are $50-$80 depending on the night. All participants must be 16 years and older. Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult.

This story was updated on May 25 with further details.

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