The queen is seeking her next diamond: Enter the magical world of Bridgerton in an immersive experience

By Kristen Gesicki, Staff Reporter

The queen is on the lookout for her next diamond of the season and cordially invites guests to attend her biggest event of the season: her ball.

Shondaland — an American television production company founded by television writer and producer Shonda Rhimes — in partnership with Netflix and Fever, created an immersive experience where guests can step back in time to London in 1813. The exhibit is based on Netflix’s fictional Bridgerton, which is centered around Queen Charlotte and her court.

The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience, kicked off its courting season in Chicago on April 20. Located at XS Tennis and Education Foundation, 5336 S. State St., guests can attend the event to immerse themselves into the world of Netflix’s hit show “Bridgerton.”

Moriah Gilman, a senior musical theater major, is planning on attending this event after her graduation. Gilman said she was immediately drawn to this event because of her love for the show and is most excited to dress up for the occasion. 

“It’s an excuse to take fun pictures in a gown that you would never wear with your friends,” Gilman said. “I think going and feeling like you’re a part of a different time period is always so fun, especially as a musical theatre major that just is weirdly so fun for me.”

Greg Lombardo, head of experiences at Netflix, said this immersive experience, from idea to creation, took nine months to bring to life.

“We had really been thinking about it since the success of the first season,” Lombardo said. “When we saw the world that Shondaland and the team had created and the way it reimagined the Regency era and the interest that viewers took in that world, we knew we wanted to do something to give them the chance to experience it in real life.”

Guests are encouraged to dress in their best Regency Era attire to impress the queen and be chosen as her next diamond — the queen’s chosen debutant of the season. Regency era clothing for women typically included ballgown floral or crystalized detail dresses with puffed short sleeves, accompanied by silk gloves and tight corsets. Men typically wore breeches with a waist coat and tail coats atop with a top hat as an accessory.

An archway of flowers leads guests into the main room where Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers are handed out to the court to update all the gossip of the most coveted ball of the season.

Portrait drawings and photo backdrops are scattered throughout the experience with signature Bridgerton-themed cocktails, curated by Tanqueray, available for attendees ages 21 and older.

Real dresses from the show are displayed throughout the venue with other merchandise on-site to enhance your attire for the night.

Guests are then introduced to the queen as a live string quartet plays signature songs from the “Bridgerton” soundtrack. Those who are eager to be selected as the next diamond have the opportunity to curtsey or bow to honor the queen.

Curtains are pulled back to reveal the coveted ballroom. Portraits of the attendees taken in the previous room are scattered throughout the ballroom on screened picture frames.

Acrobatic performances using chandeliers and silk curtains are performed between actors playing the Duke of Hastings and other signature characters from the show. The dance floor opens up and guests are welcomed to learn Regency era dances and interact with the characters.

The night ends with the crowning of the queen’s selection for her newest diamond of the season.

“There’s quite a few staff behind the scenes as well as quite a few actors in front of the audience who are really helping to bring that world to life and helping people to participate when they want to,” Lombardo said.

With other locations in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Montréal, this experience has plans to travel to other cities for fans to enjoy globally.

“Our hope is that this will continue for a long time,” Lombardo said. “Obviously, the fans of the show are global. They are very passionate, and we want to be able to provide them a chance to see themselves in the story they love as much as possible.”

Rent the Runway is offering all guests of The Queen’s Ball a 25% discount to rent attire for the event once their tickets are purchased.

Multiple shows are available every Wednesday through Sunday through June 2022 at the Chicago location. Tickets start at $45. Age requirement is 16 years and up—guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.