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Shai Baitel

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A Kingdom of His Own

Posted: 07/19/11 02:11 PM ET

At the end of 2010, Great Britain received exciting news. And the following months were spent with preparations for the announced seminal event, which would change the face of the Kingdom. The young generation of... and the women prepared their outfits and men polished their shoes. The anticipation and excitement was palpable. And then, at the beginning of 2011, it finally happened. The unique 'Box,' a club and event space that defies a one-word description, opened its doors in London to Her Majesty's subjects. Much like its older sibling in New York, the 'Box' in London provides a night full of extraordinary, colorful and surprising shows as well as intimate encounters with the world-class performers.

The visionary behind the Box concept and its driving force, Simon Hammerstein, is a fascinating figure in his own right and would merit a separate article. A grandson of Oscar Hammerstein, of Rogers and Hammerstein fame, Simon has no less talent than his famous relative but a decidedly different approach to the performing stage. But much like his grandfather, he too is committed to providing his audience with an exciting, joyous evening. The grandfather's stage musical success 'The King and I' was, in the end a very traditional and conservative production. For the grandson, however, Kings and Queens are a totally different story, with outfits that would've made Oscar Hammerstein's audience gasp. Nevertheless, the 'Box' is a place of sophisticated cabaret and burlesque. No. it is a palace of the performing arts.

What the 'Box' creates with its perfection of the shows, choreography, sound, and light is an emotional attachment resulting in a loyal following. The hands-on 'Box' team of Javier Vivas and Genc Jakupi make sure that the experience resonates with the distinguished guests. This is not to say that the shows are always without controversy. On the contrary: It is the edginess of the 'Box' and its programs that inevitably teases, stimulates, challenges, stirs emotions and, yes, on occasion offends and repulses. The gutsy gigs that include acrobats, dancers, singers, clowns, and fetishists are captivating and makes one want to come back for more.

When Lewis Carroll published 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' almost 150 years ago it became a path-breaker. The fantasy world described in the book served as a source of inspiration for many other writers and artists. Much like Carroll's story, Simon Hammerstein's 'Box' is filled with peculiar, colorful, dynamic and sometimes freakish figures. And like the Carroll's Wonderland, one will find the 'Box' acts confusing, they will blur the line between dream and reality, the line between fantasy and what one see right there on stage.

In creating such fantasies, Hammerstein proves a master of his craft. The 'Box' is the perfect setting to implement his visions of impeccable entertainment. Unlike any other place, club, or show, the 'Box' guarantees an unforgettably powerful night out as well as with a unique group of performers. More than enough reason to come to the 'Box.' And come back again and again.

It is Hammerstein's Kingdom - a Kingdom of his own.