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Review: The Ugly Duckling

Dalt Wonk says Lightwire Theater's The Ugly Duckling is anything but ugly


Last year, Lightwire Theater amazed everyone with its original puppet show Darwin the Dinosaur.
  • Last year, Lightwire Theater amazed everyone with its original puppet show Darwin the Dinosaur.

  Lightwire's puppets are human performers dressed in black wearing electroluminescent wires to outline characters. The visual effect is spectacular, and Lightwire takes things a step further by presenting engaging stories. Audiences love the characters and the many comic side effects.

  Lightwire's new show, The Ugly Duckling, is once again a total delight. The company opened the show after returning from the semi-finals of NBC's America's Got Talent.

  The new show begins with Aesop's fable The Tortoise and the Hare, about a race between a turtle and an overconfident rabbit. The Hare believes he cannot possibly lose, and he gets distracted by whatever comes along — in this modern version, his cellphone, a TV set and a clump of carrots. Eventually he dashes to the finish line, but the Tortoise beats him by a hair.

  This summary fails to capture the flavor of the show. There's plenty of music, dancing, singing and gags. The staging is unique, and the colored outlines are not garish but poetic.

  Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling also gets a makeover. "We didn't want it to be just about beauty," Eleanor Carney said after the show. "I'm a boy. I wanted a fight," said Ian Carney, her husband, who choreographed and directed the show.

  The ugly duckling does not simply grow into a beautiful adult. She rescues one of the ducklings from the clutches of a cat in a thrilling ninja battle of beasts.

  All ends happily amid good feelings and gratitude. Ian Carney and Corbin Popp created the show. It's performed by the troupe in ingenious costumes they built from shin guards, skateboards and other materials. Lightwire Theater is producing excellent work. Don't miss this show. — DALT WONK

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