Lightwire Theater Brings Us Puppets, Ballet and High-Tech Wizardry

Lightwire Theater Brings Us Puppets, Ballet and High-Tech Wizardry

Most of us have seen some kind of puppet show. One or two may have seen a ballet show. But we've all turned on a light or two in our time. Lightwire Theater does all three. The troupe, which has performed across the world and nearly won the 2012 season of "America's Got Talent," brings its unique blend of very different art forms to Costa Mesa for three shows this weekend.

So what is Lightwire? Well, it's puppets. Not intrigued? It's larger-than-life puppets, some soaring as high as 12 feet. Still not interested? Thought there's music, there are no spoken words. Not biting?The performers are all all trained ballet dancers, most of whom have ample experience in big boffo Broadway shows and it damn near won the 2012 season of "America's Got Talent."Not quite there, yet? How's this: THEY ARE ON FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, not really on fire. But they are lit up and electrified,with something called "electroluminiscent wire," a thin copper wire coated in a phosphor which glows when an alternating current is applied to it.

So, basically the small hand puppets and huge puppets, which are manipulated by ballet dancers, glow in the dark, creating a combination visual arts/dance performance that ain't exactly the Bolshoi Ballet.

Lightwire is part of Corbian Visual Arts and Dance, a New Orleans-based company that currently has shows in China and Abu Dhabi, as well as stateside. Since the stories it tell contain no words, the shows work anywhere. The one in Costa Mesa this weekend combines timeless fairytales, "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Tortoise and Hare," with modern technology, classical music and real-deal ballet people.

And though this is Corbian's kid's show, Tour Manager Stephen Nicholson says that while it may lack some of the darker, more mature themes of the company's other efforts, there's plenty to keep adults interested:

"I think the highest compliment we can get is when people liken us to something like Shreck, in that kids and adults are laughing at the same moment, but sometimes at slightly different things. We definitely gear this for families, something that kids, parents and grandparents can get a kick out of. And even though some people might just be there to watch this eye-popping technology, we still try to get people to care about the story that's unfolding on stage."

See Lightwire Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787. Sat., May 17, 1 p.m.; Sun., May 18, 1 & 3:30 p.m. $20.

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