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iLuminate – New World Stages, New York City

Play: Miral Kotb, Athena Sunga

Music: Justin “Kanobby” Keitt, Christopher Tignor

Choreographers: Miral Kotb, John “JRock” Nelson, Dario Mejia, Marcus Allan Cobb, Robert Vail

Director: Miral Kotb

Reviewer: Jamie Rosler

iLuminate – New World Stages, New York City - Photo Carol RoseggThe house lights go completely dark, and a neon figure enters the stage from nowhere. The preshow announcement is a performance in itself, and sets the tone for the rest of the production. The show is interactive, we’re told, and we should feel free to clap and cheer whenever we see something we like. Cue back handsprings. The opening number kicks off, and gives a great introduction to the rules of this world, and the characters that inhabit it.

Beautifully using negative space and light to build the world, there is no traditional set. Everything is represented by dance, music, and light. It is an odd interpretation of human faces that is at first a bit jarring, but ultimately just becomes part of that world’s look. When someone speaks, which is rare, there is a discrepancy as to where the voice comes from. Sometimes the dancers speak for themselves, and others it is definitely a voiceover. Why the difference exists is unclear, and it seems unnecessary. There is a lot of fun with lights throughout the show, often just for the sake of the trick, and other times not utilized fully. There is a green city rat that scampers across the stage on more than one occasion, and there are store windows and vortexes into which the dancers jump and seem to simply vanish. Once or twice the fourth wall is broken and they dance in the aisles, but for a show that purports to be interactive, there could have been far more of that.

The second dance number raises the energy higher, and is basically a dance party in which each performer has a short solo. Each performer has a different neon persona with funky hair, costume, and accessories, all represented by the lights on their bodies. There is a dj character up, stage left—he appears to be in a booth we can’t see, literally above the dancers—that reappears throughout the show. We meet the main character; a boy with what is supposed to read as a magic paintbrush. There is a girl with back pockets on her jeans, and the love story begins.

A villain enters the picture, with a couple of armadilloesque sidekicks, and appears to wear a logo on his back that is similar to the Cobra Kai design from the original Karate Kid. He steals the paintbrush and captures the love interest as well. A boy’s story isn’t complete without a lady in need of rescue? The story points are vague, and definitely the weakest component. If we should be aware of the details of the story, something should be written out in the Playbill, as is often done for ballets et al.

The cast does a phenomenal job keeping the energy up for the hour of the show, and the technicians controlling the lights on the dancers’ bodies are the unseen stars of the show. The best seats in the house are actually toward the rear of the theatre because that gives you more of the total stage picture at once. Though you don’t see their faces until curtain call, after which the audience is invited to line up in the aisles and have their pictures taken with the cast, it’s a diverse cast, and that’s a plus because it is still something that there isn’t enough of in most of theatre. Miral Kotb deserves special mention, as she plays nearly every non-performance rôle in this production, as well as being one of the performers on stage.

Expect a fun dance and lights show, good for kids (unless they’re sensitive to loud volumes and bright flashes), and fun for adults, who will enjoy retro references to 1970s style and 1980s break dancing. You’ll enjoy it more if you don’t pay full price, but it is definitely en entertaining way to spend an hour.

Photos: Carol Rosegg |Open ended run

Play: Miral Kotb, Athena Sunga Music: Justin “Kanobby” Keitt, Christopher Tignor Choreographers: Miral Kotb, John “JRock” Nelson, Dario Mejia, Marcus Allan Cobb, Robert Vail Director: Miral Kotb Reviewer: Jamie Rosler The house lights go completely dark, and a neon figure enters the stage from nowhere. The preshow announcement is a performance in itself, and sets the tone for the rest of the production. The show is interactive, we’re told, and we should feel free to clap and cheer whenever we see something we like. Cue back handsprings. The opening number kicks off, and gives a great introduction to the rules…

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The American team is under the editorship of Adrienne Sowers. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.