[Note: After closing in 2015, iLuminate is now reopening for a summer run at Theatre 80 in the East Village.]
iLuminate: In brief
The light-suit–wearing dance group iLuminate, which appeared on America’s Got Talent, presents this tale about Jacob, a young artist who finds solace in a magical paintbrush that allows him to turn his characters into actual creatures. Miral Kotb directs the show, which features choreography by Marcus Allan Cobb, Dario Mejia, John "J-Rock" Nelson and Kotb.
iLuminate: Theater review by Raven Snook
If this eye-popping hour-long spectacle seems like an extended novelty act from America’s Got Talent, well, it kind of is. Creator Miral Kotb, a former software engineer, and her crew of glow-suited iLuminate dancers came in third place on the sixth season of that reality competition, which is a shame, since their high-tech show would probably play better in Las Vegas than Off Broadway. But while their storytelling skills are elusive, the incredibly agile performers have all the light moves, not to mention plenty of the F/X factor.
The plot is the stuff of an angsty eighth grader’s comic book: An alienated artist can magically make his creations come to life. But when a rival steals his enchanted paintbrush and his girl, he and his friends must travel to another dimension to get them back…or something like that. With little dialogue and a loud, nonstop electronic soundtrack by Justin “Kanobby” Keitt and Christopher Tignor, iLuminate isn’t about aural pleasures. It works best if you turn off your brain and open your eyes wide. The light-up suits and sets truly dazzle. And what the choreography (a mash-up of ballet, hip-hop, modern and even tango) lacks in originality, it makes up for in meticulous execution, as characters seem to fly, float and switch heads. The effects frequently elicited audible whoas and woos from the audience, especially from anyone tipsy or under 12.
Although the production has been playing since last year, it recently dropped its precious subtitle, Artist of Light, and improved some set pieces. All the old favorites are there: the break-dancing robots, the rave attendees and even the pesky rat. But the climax has been pumped up and now features a giant, man-eating, glow-in-the-dark serpent. Nuanced it’s not, but it certainly lights up your life.—Theater review by Raven Snook