Originally published by Entertainment.ie, Monday 5th August, 2013. To read the original, please click here
Primarily known in the US as runners-up in the sixth season of America’s Got Talent, Denver’sThe Silhouettes comprises of 42 dancers, aged between 4 – 18, all performing in – you’ve guessed it – silhouette. Entitled “The Journey of Love”, The Silhouettes’ Olympia show tells the story of two children, Annie and Johnny, and their respective journeys through life and their own, unique bond.
Making versatile use of visuals, dialogue and a song – driven soundtrack push the narrative along, which is also complemented by screen visuals of locations as diverse as Paris, Arizona, Ireland and the Middle East. Flexible and resourceful as only the best dancers and performers are, the cast members transform themselves in silhouette to rocking chairs, trees, desks and animals, all of which perfectly integrate with the narrative.
The story of Johnny, in particular, is one of a young man growing up on the road: wandering across America and, eventually, the wider world, his whole life in a backpack. In an age where 93% of Leaving Cert. students have Facebook accounts, it’s a refreshing call for young people to embrace the outdoors and, in its better moments, almost resembles a children’s version of Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild”.
Annie, the female character in the story, leaves Johnny on the road and goes to Hollywood to pursue a career as a dancer. After a 15 minute interval, an obligatory R&B / hip-hop performance ensues, flagging Annie’s move to Hollywood. It’s with Annie’s character that the production takes the most risks, whether it’s the story of Annie’s drink being spiked at a Hollywood party or her being groomed by a Broadway director while trying to make her name on the New York stage, all which stretch the interest of the production to an older, mid-to-late teens audience.
It is, however, an ill-judged flirtation with American patriotism that taints the production. Mid-way through Act Two, a Christina Aguilera-ised version of “God Bless America” is performed against a visual of the Stars and Stripes. This irony-free performance elicits cynical laughter from the older members of the audience. Certainly, the “God Bless America” segment sets up Johnny’s enlisting in the army, but it unnecessarily overshadows the story.
Injured in combat and subsequently shipped back home, Johnny is treated in a veteran’s hospital back home in America. The staff at the hospital contacts Annie to inform her that Johnny is confined to a wheelchair. When Annie visit’s a wheelchair-bound and stunned Johnny, he emerges from the wheelchair, walking again, which makes one wonder why there isn’t a Televangelist on stage declaring “God Bless, Hallelujah! It’s a miracle!’
All that said, The Silhouettes’ “The Journey of Love” is, for sheer originality and pure innovation, worth the price of admission alone: a unique live performance that must be seen live. While it doesn’t do enough to reach out to an older audience, such as, for example, the Shrek series did, it serves its children’s audience more than well.
Star rating: 3 / 5
Venue: The Olympia Theatre
Written by: Lynne Waggoner-Patton
Directed by: Lynne Waggoner-Patton
Cast: The Silhouettes
The Silhouettes “The Journey Of Love” runs in The Olympia Theatre from 2nd – 18th August at 7.30pm. Tickets on sale now from €19.50. For more information and to book tickets go to www.olympia.ie