Grimm Hotel in North Belfast: A Children’s Theater Experience is a ‘hotel’ with a difference and looks like spooky fun
If you go to the stores today you are sure to get a “Grimm” surprise. Tucked away at the back of Cityside Shopping Center in North Belfast is a deceptively looking door that leads to a new “hotel” – but with a difference.
The Grimm Hotel is not just a converted 10,000 square foot warehouse; it’s also a spooky and entertaining tour experience designed by award-winning children’s theater company Cahoots.
The multisensory show, which officially opens on Tuesday, features magic, music, technology and some of the most recognizable characters in folklore.
When the Hotel Grimm opens, small groups of ‘guests’ will be greeted by a member of staff and guided through a dimly lit hallway to a lobby.
They will then choose a room from a selection of 210 – the number of Grimm’s fairy tales published – before âchecking inâ.
A bell boy from the Hotel Grimm will escort them to the room of their choice, where they can attend the first of three Grimm tale shows.
They will then move on to the second and third performance spaces, allowing new âguestsâ to enter.
The show involves a team of bellboys, janitors and six actors playing the roles of fairy-tale characters.
The exact fairy tales are kept secret to add to the surprise of the youngest hotel guests.
Each of the three performances will use a combination of traditional theater, live jazz, up-close magic and high-tech illusion.
Cahoots artistic director Paul Bosco McEneaney said he had always wanted to put on a show around the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, and that when he saw Cityside’s unused warehouse, he had the idea of ââcombining the two.
âWe created a play during the lockdown last year called The University of Wonder and Imagination, and it aired online when theaters were closed,â he said.
âThe whole idea of ââspace got exciting when locked out when we couldn’t create work in theaters. I thought about space a lot. We had just created an online university.
âThen I realized there was this huge unused warehouse, so it made sense to me to build a hotel.
âFor years, I wanted to do a show based on the tales of the Brothers Grimm.
âThey are so dark and deep and have meant different things at different times.
“I combined the concept of a hotel with fairy tales, and the idea was that each room would have a different story that the audience could enter into.”
Savills realtors allowed Cahoots to occupy the space in the spring of this year, after which designers were hired to create the huge set.
The result is a groundbreaking theatrical experience that Paul said was unlike anything seen before in Northern Ireland.
Local actor Hugh Brown, who plays the head groom, said there was a real buzz around the center as curious shoppers and curious children try to find out what is going on behind the front door of the hotel.
âThe Grimm Hotel is an incredible, dynamic sensory experience, a totally immersive spectacle adventure,â he added.
âThere is something special about the transition from a bustling mall to this magical world of music, visuals, illusions and wonderful performances. But it’s also very real. It feels like a real hotel.
âThere has been a real buzz in the mall since we started working there. We had children knocking on the door before they ran away, but there was also a lot of interest from the adults.
âWe want people to react with amazement and wonder. The show is for everyone, really. You just have to let go.
Philippa O’Hara, who plays a main character in one of the three fairy tales, said the show was unlike anything she had been in and that she couldn’t wait for people to see it.
“The Grimm Hotel will wow the public,” she added.
âThe quality of the show is so high and the setting is amazing.
âIt looks like a lively and dynamic hotel, but very atmospheric and full of illusions and surprises.â
The Grimm Hotel is part of the Belfast International Arts Festival and has been specially designed to be Covid-proof.
It is aimed at families with children from the age of eight.
To book your ticket for the Grimm Hotel, go to belfastinternationalartsfestival.com. Alternatively, you can book by phone on 028 9024 6609.