An “Hallucinating Hip Hop, Modern Mummenschanz” is how I would describe the Off-Broadway hit, iLuminate: Artist of Light. Back in 1972 Mummenschanz begat as a group of mime actors doing puppetry in the dark involving bizarre masks and forms, light and shadow, as well as subtle choreography. We’ve come a long way Broadway. iLuminate takes us to heights with some state-of-the art technology by providing a show with a hip-hop “ballet” as the actors’ costumes flash on cue to produce the illusion of their moving about in such a way that the bodies are suspended in air or broken apart while they dance to some contemporary audience clapping music.
If the name, “iLuminate” sounds familiar, you were watching America’s Got Talent in 2011. They didn’t win, but that’s our gift as we don’t have to travel to Las Vegas or pay the high prices. Instead the production is being performed at the fabulous New World Stages, located at 340 West 50th Street.
The show tells the story of Jacob, a talented but insecure young artist who struggles to connect with the real world. He takes comfort in his magical paintbrush, which grants him the power to turn the characters of his imagination into living, breathing creatures. When a jealous townsperson steals the paintbrush and turns his sweet creations into horrifying monsters, Jacob must face this danger without the help of his miraculous instrument. He fights to save his town and friends, all while knowing the paintbrush that brought him so much joy is now a weapon in the hands of a villain bent on destruction. And there’s a boy –meets-girl theme as well.
Miral Kotb is responsible for not only the producing and directing, but for creating the software that cues up each light. Some of the performers such as John “Jrock” Nelson are credited with some of the choreography and costume designs. The music, “score” is written by Justin “Kanobby” Keitt and Christopher Tignor.
At times the performers come out to the audience. At times there is what sounds like “electronic speaking”. All times, this feel-good production should appeal to all ages, the way Cirque du Soleil does.
Although the first few rows will give you an up-close view, it may spoil some of the affects and fascination. Cast reveals themselves just after curtain call and does a meet and greet after the show. www.newworldstages.com