The Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., will welcome Lightwire Theater as they present the unique "Lightwire: The Show," beginning at 7:30 p.m., March 6.
Lightwire Theater is a recognized and established group of performers, but the group had a breakout moment in 2012 when they were asked to compete on "America's Got Talent."
"At the time, we had been existing for seven years and had two touring shows," Ian Carney, the creator, director and choreographer for Lightwire, said. "They [America's Got Talent] were reaching out to that level of talent that was professional, but could still use the exposure. We had a lot of experience in what we were doing."
Along with Corbin Popp, Carney created a show using "EL wire," which is short for electroluminescent wire. According to Lightwire Theater's website, "the technology can be powered by batteries and requires no theatrical lighting."
Carney explained that the two started playing around with basic puppets and shapes, and it took off from there. "Very soon, we realized that if what we were looking at wasn't a success, it was going to be our fault. It was magical. We really could create a whole other world, particularly with this medium. It's a consistent line and it allows for an organic thing," Carney said.
Thanks to backgrounds in ballet, Carney and Popp are able to create characters, storylines and movement that captivate audiences of all ages. "We wanted characters and animals. Once we saw that potential, we just started creating and we made a 10-minute piece with two characters. We thought, 'What would they do?' From there, our first show blossomed. We just kept on going."
With their wives, Carney and Popp relocated to Carney's hometown of New Orleans, La., to continue the creative process. Carney felt it was needed after his hometown was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
"It was two-fold. Katrina had just hit. We wanted to come home and contribute to the city. Our Broadway show, 'Moving Out' had closed about half a year before," Carney said. "We wanted to get back to ballet, and we had the space here as well. It was more conducive to what were doing."
Carney lamented on the lack of space in New York City for dancers and rehearsal space. "God bless our wives, in a one bedroom apartment covered with all kinds of stuff, trying to make these weird things. So the move worked out," he said.
While the medium of EL wire is difficult to work with, Carney is proud of the hard work that his crew has put into developing Lightwire Theater. He said the crew puts about 200 man-hours into each costume, and that's not including the choreography and making sure the costumes and lighting work just right to convey a story to the audience. The show really is a demonstration of hard work. Carney said all the costumes are handmade by the cast: "It's truly a homegrown thing. We are very proud of our product."
Carney said although the show is not completely geared toward children, the show is family-friendly.
"We never made any of our shows really for children, I just always wanted to make theater that was like 'Aladdin.' (The adults are) laughing at Robin Williams for a completely different reason than the kids are. I wanted parents to be able to come and not have an experience where they are like, 'Oh, that was nice.' I wanted to have something that even couples can come to - groups of teenagers, older couples - it doesn't really matter. It transcends all levels," Carney said.
Carney has created a show that can be performed all over the country, and a show that any type of audience can connect with. "It's a wordless story," he said. "Language separates us; once you can take that out of the equation, it doesn't matter where you go. I think it involves the audience more. They are part creator of the story, things could have five different answers. Particularly when I was young, that was the kind of theater that got me going. I went home and talked about and thought about it. That's a big reward."
"Lightwire: The Show" also will explore the ideas of good vs. evil.
"It tells a story, it takes a journey. It has a big evil emperor who wants to take the life of the inhabitants of this world, and this baby bird is ostracized from his family because he has a unique power," Carney said. The show follows the baby bird on his adventure of nurturing his "power" through other characters, including an "epic sword-throwing cat" and "an exiled Jedi warrior."
"It's got all the things that go into that sort of 'Frodo' moment. We tell a story that I think the only way to have someone survive two acts is to engage them like that. Just engaging the eyes is not enough. You have to make them fall in love with the character," Carney said.
For more information on Lightwire Theater, visit www.lightwiretheater.com.
For ticket information, visit www.caclive.com or call 570-326-2424.