Audience participation is welcome in China's 'first 5-D musical comedy' with bite.

It's a new theater, new show and new rules. You are not only allowed to "consume food and beverages" during the show but are encouraged to do so.

Actors actually hand out food and invite audiences to the stage to eat during the new musical production Feast of the Princess.

The theater ET Space, revamped from a historical establishment in downtown Shanghai, has opened a small food market in the lobby especially for the opening of Feast.

"We are China's first 5-D musical comedy," says Tian Yuan, general manager of United Asia Live Entertainment Co Ltd, producer of the play.

"Usually we experience a theater show by seeing and listening, but you will be able to smell, touch and taste Feast of the Princess," Tian says.

UAE is a Sino-South Korean joint venture. In the past three years it made Chinese productions of several famous Broadway musicals, such as Mamma Mia! and Cats.

"We think it's time we create an original Chinese show," Tian says.

Inspired by the documentary TV series A Bite of China, director Liu Chun decided to work on the theme of Chinese cuisine.

"We all know how we Chinese are passionate about food, and China's culinary culture provides infinite material for a production of family entertainment," Tian says.

Feast of the Princess tells about a Chinese princess who has lost her sense of taste. Her father, the king, hosts a culinary competition, promising to marry the princess to the champion who can successfully bring back her gustation.

Besides original music, stage setting and visual designs created by South Korean artists, the show has collected a versatile cast. They will perform acrobatics, martial arts, beat-box and street dances.

During the show, audiences will participate in the competition as jury members, tasting crab meat, raisins and tiramisu - all created by the contestants from China, Iran and Italy.

The production will have 80 performances in Shanghai by Dec 15, before heading to Beijing and other cities of China.

"Audiences try out crabmeat in Shanghai, and maybe in Beijing they will taste roast duck," Tian says. "To integrate the local delicacy and involve the endemic culture - that's the spirit."

"We considered the feasibility of real cooking onstage, or building a kitchen backstage, and gave up because of safety reasons," says Ang Yang, general manager of ET Space.

"Ours is a historical building. Whatever change you make to the structure, you need approval from the city's cultural heritage administration."

Rather than asking audiences to turn off their mobile devices, ET Space provides free WiFi connection and is working on an application that enables audiences to interact with the live show through their phones.