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'Dino-Light' brings creatures to life at Playhouse

Published 4:06 pm, Thursday, January 16, 2014
  • Corbin Popp of Lightwire Theater plays a glowing dinosaur in "Dino-Light" at Westport Country Playhouse on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 1 and 4 p.m. For more information, call 203-227-5137. Photo: Contributed Photo / Stamford Advocate Contributed
    Corbin Popp of Lightwire Theater plays a glowing dinosaur in "Dino-Light" at Westport Country Playhouse on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 1 and 4 p.m. For more information, call 203-227-5137. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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'Dino-Light'
Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Westport. Sunday, Jan. 19, 1, 4 p.m. $20. Pre-show activities begin one hour before each performance. 203-227-4177, 888-927-7529, www.westportplayhouse.org.
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For a group of dancers, the story of "Dino-Light" came into being with every new character they created.

"We built the dinosaur first," said Eleanor Carney, who along with her husband, Ian, and fellow dancers Corbin Popp and his wife, Whitney, founded CORBiAN Visual Arts and Dance.

Such was the birth of Darwin, which was quickly followed by Professor Henslow and about eight other creatures that make up the characters in the show "Dino-Light."

The medium was electroluminescent wire, or EL wire, which could be bent into any shape, provide an unbroken line of light (in multiple colors) and be powered by battery.

"The next step was what do these creatures have to say," Eleanor Carney said. "Most of our stories are driven by the characters we create."

The show, which also is produced by the Carneys' Lightwire Theater, arrives in Westport on Sunday, Jan. 19, for two performances at the Westport Country Playhouse.

The story centers on Professor Henslow, a magic scientist, who succeeds in creating Darwin, and gives him an important element -- a heart. As Darwin explores the world, he meets fish, birds and other creatures who help him on his journey. Not every creature is considerate, however, and he finds himself having to deal with an ill-tempered Tyrannosaurus.

The show also is about encountering new places and experiences and dealing with change, Carneysaid. Ultimately, though, it is about the meaning of love and the sacrifices one makes to experience it.

The show is told through puppetry, technology, music and dance. Amid a darkened stage, these creatures of light tell their story propelled by the dancers who inhabit them. There is very little narration, with the music and motion doing most of the work to move the story along. As such, the audience is encouraged to make their own interpretation of the story's message, meaning it is a production that can work for multiple ages.

"It really boils down to the essence of your movement," Carney said of the dancers who perform.

Such technique is not unlike classic ballet, she said, but it is a far more physical experience, since the dancers don custom-built costumes that feature plates, coiled wire, energy packs and pads.

In 2012, a national and international television audience had a chance to see what the theater company was capable of when it competed on NBC's "America's Got Talent." It made it to the final eight, but was eliminated before the finals.

"Those moments on national television were priceless," Carney said.

Until then, local audiences can look forward to seeing the adventures of a curious dinosaur and an industrious scientist. And don't worry if you think you may be a bit too old for the show.

"There is something for everyone," Carney said.