Photo Credit: Cassie Phippin
Admittedly, even though I have heard nothing but great things about the Visual Arts Collective in Garden City, I have been one of the many that are weary of leaving the easily accessible downtown area to satiate my art and entertainment cravings.
Recently I gave in and went the distance (which is literally only a 7 minute drive from my house and I live on the other side of downtown) to catch Red Light Variety’s special “pay what you want” preview of their latest production, Beyond Wonderland. Given the rave reviews from friends and strangers alike, the variation in performance art, and the fact that the show this time is a play off of one of my very favorite childhood movies, Alice in Wonderland, the choice was a no brainer.
The venue is a short distance from downtown right into Garden city and the Visual Arts Collective (VAC), is a surprisingly large once you walk inside. The walls are covered in obscure but wildly colorful and creative works of art, and the bar fully staffed and stocked for all possible drinking needs. What stood out most though was the immediate integration into the Beyond Wonderland alternate universe. The theatrics of a very “drunk” male bunny rabbit dressed to impress in chaps and complete with a bow tie asking if you’d like to contribute to the raffle through excessive hiccups, slurred speech and unbalanced posture was the first cue that I had begun my journey down the rabbit hole. Welcome to Beyond Wonderland.
The stage is a sight to be seen as well with what appears to be clocks on either side of the stage that double as screens when the show begins and oh boy does it. I can go on and on about the accuracy and degree of professionalism in the costume design and makeup or the uncanny artistry and talent of the performance in song, dance, acrobatics and aerial arts. I could even explain how tweedledee and tweedledum made me laugh so hard that I very literally had tears of laughter falling down my cheeks but it just would not do it all justice.
I spoke with one of the Red Light Variety Show members to find out how all of this is put together. Everything is so well-organized and executed fantastically. It reminds me of a show I might come across on the Las Vegas strip, with a full team of makeup and costume designers behind the scenes making it all possible. Of course, that isn’t the case with Red Light Variety.
In true Idaho fashion it is a DIY kind of production. Red Light Variety Show is run by its members so there is no one in charge. According to James Sharp, a member, performer, and contributor, “We select the show themes, performance direction, and each individually select our own pieces. We put a lot of trust in one another to develop quality pieces, then place even more trust in our technical staff to tie those numbers together with order, light, and sound. That trust is so important because we only meet maybe 3-4 times as a group before each show. Everyone does their own costumes and makeup.” Everything, down to costumes and makeup all done by the individuals but as a collective, phenomenal.
I was told that once you make it to one Red Light Variety Show performance you won’t be able to stay away, and they were absolutely right. It was fascinating, stimulating and overall extremely impressive. I will be making it back to the last performance on April 30th, but don’t fret. There are three more performances between now and then. April 22nd, 23rd, 29th, or join me on the 30th,
“for a mind bending experience unlike any other. Watch us stretch the limits of you’re reality and imagination with BEYOND WONDERLAND! Featuring acts like burlesque, aerial acrobatics, modern dance, partner acrobatics, boylesque, and so much more this event is sure to drive you mad with excitement!” – Red Light Variety Show
Doors 8pm Show 9pm
$15 advanced, $20 at the door
Visual Arts Collective