Lightwire glows at the Buell Theatre

Photo: Korina Rojo

Photo: Korina Rojo


472 students looking for a break from school attended Lightwire’s Feb. 2 show at the Buell Theatre.

CU Denver Live! partnered with the Denver Performing Arts Complex (DPAC) to host the act, who have appeared on America’s Got Talent. Lightwire is a Louisiana-based act that specializes in theater and storytelling through lights created by couples Ian and Eleanor Carney, and Corbin and Whitney Popp.

Lightwire started 10 years ago in a one-bedroom apartment in New York,” Lightwire Chair Eleanor Carney said. “We started our first show in 2007. People were still spending money on their kids, but we didn’t care we just wanted to perform and get the thing out.”

DPAC provided the venue for free, only requiring for the CU Denver committee to provide the entertainment.

“We gave it a shot and reached out to them,” Elysia Smith, chair of CU Denver Live! said. “A lot of this event was a shot in the dark. DPAC has been great with the university.”

Around 20 different performers used props and costumes made out of glow-in-the-dark El Wire to tell a story. The founders come from ballet companies and wanted to continue to tell stories wordlessly. Soon after they started, people began to show interest.

“The one thing that stands in the way of communication is language. And without that, you can immediately walk into a country and relate,” Carney said. “Everybody knows what a depressed person looks like. These basic things we’re able to tap into because we’re not telling you.”

In 2012, the group auditioned for America’s Got Talent, and made it to the semi-finals. They were able to conjure a larger following when  more than 10 million people began watching every episode.

“Do we really want to put ourselves in front of Howard Stern?” Carney said. “The power of that one show is really amazing, it was one of the best decisions we’ve made.”

Lightwire started their international tour on Jan. 6, and will continue to run well into the summer. They do an average of 100 shows per year, and have five different types of show in total, with three running in the US. This summer, they’ll return to China for two months to perform.

Although they’ve received an insurmountable level of success, the crew is always trying to find ways improve their shows.

“We’d like to have a sit down show,” Carney said. “We’re starting to do things with lasers. If we can inhabit a theater and make it our own, ultimately that’s the number one goal.”

Ian Blanco, a performer in Lightwire, started his run in 2013 and only decided to audition after his teacher in art school persuaded him to join.

“I had seen the company perform my senior year of high school,” Blanco said. “I plan to keep my hands with them for a while.”

Blanco, who will be moving to New York soon to audition for musical theaters, obtained his BFA in Musical Theater. Although Lightwire is based more on puppetry and technology, Blanco is still very grateful for the opportunity.

“Once you get onstage and hear the audience… It’s the reason why you do it,” Blanco said.

Like almost all performances, music plays a big part. That’s why Smith felt it’d best fit to have Lark, a female-identifying a cappella group at CU Denver, open for Lightwire, who concentrates on dance and music to tell their stories.

“We’ve got some incredible a cappella groups on campus,” Smith said. “We’re basically bringing one of our most talented CU Denver groups and pairing it with a non-CU Denver group.”

Lightwire performed “Dino-Light,” one of their more popular shows. The story follows a scientist who brings a dinosaur to life.

The dinosaur strays from its owner, but discovers new animals and learns about love on its path back home.

The show is a must-see live experience. The energetic moves, vibrant colors of the costumes, and the costumes themselves aren’t portrayed on television the way they are on stage. While in the same room as the performers, viewers can watch the dinosaurs limbs, teeth, and eyes light up, giving the character so much life. While watching them on TV, much of the show’s magic can be missed, but in person, viewers are immersed in the fast paced performance and story unfolding.

The glow-in-the-dark show was an ideal break for many, including human resources student Jordan Fernandes, who attended the show with his family.

“It was a lot of fun,” Fernandes said. “I loved the red T-Rex, I loved how they got his figure.”

Fernandes, who hasn’t attended a show with his family in several years, found the performance to be a great opportunity to spend time with them, as well as taking a break from work and studies.

“Going to these events helps you feel like you’re part of a community,” Fernandes said. “Making time for these events is really fun. What else would I have done on a Thursday night?”

Dilkush Khan
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