“iLuminate,” which is running at Theatre 80 through September 4, is a light show in which the lights are portrayed by 11 acrobatic dancers resembling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who fell into a vat of radioactive day-glo paint. They glow in the dark. The combination of the technology and the choreography makes for a stunning spectacle of a show, it not an especially coherent one.
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“iLuminate” is probably supposed to be pronounced like iPhone or iTunes, which would make sense because it is both the name of the show and of an “entertainment technology company” based on wireless technology developed by software engineer and dancer Miral Kotb in 2009. Kotb introduced the technology publicly in 2011 on America’s Got Talent, and has used it in various entertainments ever since all over the world (see video below), including twice before Off-Broadway.
On this third time around in a New York theater, the show has gotten longer — there is now an intermission. The story, such as it is, involves shy artist Jacob (Nicholas Ranauro), who has a magical paintbrush that makes his creations come to life. He uses it one night at a nightclub to try to impress his would-be girlfriend Ali (Alessandra Marconi). Darius (Shane Carrigan), a rival for Ali’s affection, abducts her, steals the brush, and uses it (the brush) for evil. Only a member of the audience can save the world – during our performance, a seven-year-old blonde girl, who with gentle assistance, pushed some big buttons of different-colored light. The climax involves a dragon.
It’s distinctly possible that none of the plot will be clear, since there is only a handful of spoken sentences, intoned with an amplification that makes everybody sound like Darth Vader, and they have to compete with the constant loud thumping music. The show is also almost entirely in the dark, the only light coming from the costumes and props. Being in the dark is part of its appeal. “iLuminate” belongs roughly to the same genre as “Stomp” and “Blue Man Group” – suited for children, people who don’t speak English, and those who seek safe, legal and loud hallucinations.
at Theatre 80 St. Marks
By Miral Kotb and Athena Sunga
Music by Matt Stine, Justin “Kanobby” Keitt, and Christopher Tignor
Directed by Miral Kotb
Choreographed by Trevor Harrison
Cast: Alessandra Marconi, Aubrey Brown, Bryan Longchamp, Charles Way, David Terry, Lisa Bauford, Lucia Foster, Matthew Dobbins, Omar Pride, Shane Corrigan, Simon Mendoza
Running time: 90 minutes including an intermision.
iLuminati is scheduled to run through September 4, 2016.