When La Perle by Dragone debuts in March next year, it will be the first purpose-built aqua theatre in the entire Middle East and Africa region. Built into the heart of the Al Habtoor City mixed-use complex alongside Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, La Perle will feature two nightly shows, five days a week, for a 1,300-strong audience.
Dragone is one of the most sought-after artistic directors in the world and famed for reinventing the genre of theatre and changing the face of live entertainment in Las Vegas. Two of the top three attractions in Las Vegas off of TripAdvisor are Franco Dragone’s shows. His most significant shows in the last decade include: Celine Dion – A New Day, O and Le Rêve (Las Vegas) and The House of Dancing Water (Macau). House of Dancing Water is the number one show in Macau.
TTN spoke to Kent Cooper, head of sales at La Perle by Dragone in Al Habtoor City, to get more insight into the mammoth addition to Dubai’s evening calendar.
'The Habtoors they seek out the best of the best there is in the world,' says Cooper. 'Franco is the creative guy behind Cirque du Soleil. He wanted to do something bigger and had some ideas that could not be realised in a travelling show.' This was the birth of La Perle by Dragone, which will feature a cast of 65 world-class artists in a state-of-the-art, intimate 1,300 seat theatre. The theatre itself will feature an ‘aqua-stage’ filled with 2.5 million litres of water and will have the ability to change from a dry platform to aquatic stage and vice versa.
Cooper adds, 'We’re not bringing Dragone’s show to Dubai, we’re building a permanent theatre here. A lot of travelling shows take one day to set up and about half a day to dissemble. It takes us two months to put our technology into the theatre.'
The 1,300 seats are placed in a sort of semi-circle of 260 degrees. The stage is the same size as Macau and Las Vegas, but they have about a thousand more seats than La Perle. This means that every seat in La Perle will have a great view – the most you’ll go away from the stage is 14 rows, explains Cooper. There will be bronze, silver, gold and VIP seats, which will be 10cm bigger and feature select, table-side service.
VIP tickets are priced at Dh999 ($270), while majority of the tickets are between Dh599 ($165) and Dh699 ($190). Entry level bronze tickets will go at Dh399 ($110).
Cooper will lead commercial operations at the unique show including direct sales, ticketing, food and beverage, merchandise and sponsorship sales. A seasoned luxury hospitality executive, he brings to the team a 24-year resume in operations, sales and marketing. During his 15-year tenure in Dubai, he has overseen the sales, marketing and distribution operations at over 25 hotels across multiple brands throughout the region at both a property and corporate level.
'We have already contracted 250 travel agents, professional Congress Organisers (PCOs), destination management companies (DMCs), wholesalers and online travel agents (OTAs). We are going to be contracting with all the travel trade; and we will have a very strong concierge programme as well. We are non-denominational. We have already reached out to most of the hotel chains’ head offices and everyone wants to work with us.'
With a strong background in the region’s hospitality Cooper understands the business model of the trade. 'We understand how they make money and how their partners make money. So, whether it is commissioned-based, especially from a wholesale point of view, we understand that they are marking up, so we make allocations for that. Our concierge programme will have an incentive for the concierge teams.'
Only time will tell if filling 1,300 seats twice a night, five nights in a row will be an easy task. Cooper assures us, 'We are not leaving anything uncovered. We are focusing on every market. We are doing all the big trade shows with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and promoting the destination all over the world with DTCM.
'India is a key feeder market. Obviously, the GCC is really important, but Asia is going to be huge for us as well. We discovered that in India, 90 per cent of the people we spoke to had seen or heard of House on Dancing Water in Macau. This shows that there is a pent-up demand for such entertainment in India.'
La Perle will really be the perfect end to the tourist’s daytime activities in Dubai’s souks, malls, desert and beaches when the sun goes down. There is a lack of family-friendly evening entertainment options in Dubai for tourists and residents alike, Cooper points out. 'Dubai Opera is built mostly for residents in that the shows rotate shows constantly. We, on the other hand, have forward bookings for 2019 already. We have buyouts on the cards where there are groups coming in to take over the entire theatre. So there’s a dinner before the show, followed by a reception in the lobby with the cast and crew.
'What’s interesting about the business of theatre is that it is the tent pole that holds everything together. Every night, we will bring about 2,000 people here, that’s almost a half a million people a year just delivered to the doorsteps of the restaurants in this neighbourhood,' he says.
By a Staff Reporter
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