Off-Broadway Theater Review: iLUMINATE (New World Stages)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on January 28, 2014

in Theater-New York


A delight for both kids and adults, the clever and inventive entertainment iLuminate brings to mind the image of dancing graffiti. Wearing black body suits equipped with different colored neon lights, the performers move in darkness; all one sees are Scene from “iLuminate” at New World Stages.illuminations. Populated by fantastic creatures that dance, fly, fall to pieces and reassemble, the world that’s created is unique, fun and at times amazing.

Directed by Miral Kotb, who co-wrote with Athena Sunga, iLuminate (which received national attention after its performance on America’s Got Talent) tells the story of an artist named Jacob whose magical paintbrush brings his beautiful creations to life. When his girlfriend drags him to a dance club Jacob feels out of place – poor are his dancing and socializing skills – until he uses his brush to create living art. Swept up in a whirlwind of praise from the crowd, Jacob forgets his enchanted instrument and the brush is found by a rascal who uses it to make mischief, until its power transforms him into a demon. Aided by monstrous minions of his own creation, the demon kidnaps Jacob’s girlfriend and takes her to his own dark dimension, from which the artist must then rescue her.

Maybe three words are spoken in iLuminate but even those are unnecessary; the story is told with perfect clarity through mime and dance, its choreography a combined effort of Ms. Kotb, John “JRock” Nelson, Dario Mejia, Marcus Allan Cobb, and Robert Vail. The short runtime, at about 50 minutes, feels like it’s designed to please younger viewers. One unfortunate consequence is that this necessitates a Iluminate0776r (800x513)simplification of the story. I would have been glad to watch a longer, more intricate version of this show, provided it sustained its initial level of energy and creativity.

iLuminate isn’t a work of high art, but it isn’t intended to be. Except for the phenomenal lighting transitions by Kotb and Jordon Monson, its individual elements, though strong, aren’t virtuosic. Justin “Kanobby” Keitt and Christopher Tignor’s music, although it serves its purpose, is mostly run-of-the-mill. Yet taken together these elements generate joy, and that’s not at all a small feat.

Performers: David “Flaco” Andrini, Kenny Bermudez, Trevor “Cleva Trev” Harrison, Giselle Mejia, Michelle “Miki” Scott, Robert Vail, Lisa “LBoogie” Bauford, Marcus Allan Cobb, Adrienne Hicks, John “JRock” Nelson, Dorren “Moglii” Smith.

Scene from “iLuminate” at New World Stages.

photos by Carol Rosegg

New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street
ends on January 18, 2015
returns July 18 – September 4, 2016

Theatre 80 St. Mark’s (80 St. Mark’s Place)
ends on January 18, 2015

RETURNS TO New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street
November 22, 2016-January 8, 2017
for tickets, call Telecharge 212.239.6200 or visit iLuminate

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