BWW Review: Technical Wizardry Transforms the Streets of L.A. During HOPSCOTCH, a World Premiere Mobile Opera Experience
I discovered the most amazing production company in Los Angeles two years go at Union Station when I experienced INVISIBLE CITIES by The Industry, directed by the brilliant Yuval Sharon with his incredibly dedicated and ultra creative production team that devised a way to move among cast members and strangers as you listened to a full opera over headphones. How could they top that? Trust me, they have!
HOPSCOTCH is a new mobile opera performed in limos on three different routes (Red, Yellow or Green) at various points in and near downtown Los Angeles, presented by the Industry, directed by the amazing Yuval Sharon and his incredible production team comprised of composers, singers, musicians, sound engineers, technical wizards, and an extensive support system, all of whom have created a theatrical experience that defies description and will blow your mind.
The basic storyline concerns three people (Lucha, Jameson and Orlando), showing how their lives intersect on the streets and with the people of Los Angeles. The tale is comprised of 24 separate scenes at different locations as well as 10 animated episodes that can be viewed online before you start your journey, which definitely assist in explaining the necessary basics of the plot. But let all of that go once you step into your assigned limo and just allow the marvels you are about to experience rock your world.
I attended a preview performance on 10-24-15, and like all audience members, was sent the location of where my journey would begin just a few days prior. Imagine my surprise when I arrived to find a limo waiting, parked near graffiti-covered warehouses on a side street under a concrete bridge for the Metro Gold Line. This was the starting point of my journey along the Green Route which took me to Chinatown, the heights of Elysian Park, and winding around streets, through neighborhoods and along rivers I never knew existed. And all the while, Lucha and Jameson were ever present in one way or another, together and separately, with or without other people, singers, and musicians.
There will always be at least one character singing in the limo with you as you move from scene to scene. And while there is an accompanying musician, the sound system within allows you to hear much more, all perfectly in sync. For instance, one episode I experienced was "Passengers" which began as we entered a limo with a businessman seated inside, singing about his travels from Pasadena to downtown, accompanied by six recorded musicians. From out of nowhere, Jameson appeared riding his motorcycle. behind and next to our limo as we weaved through traffic. The two men then carried on a singing conversation that began with a bad taillight warning and progressed to the exchange of a very important journal. All the while, the two men sang in perfect unison even though Jameson was riding a motorcycle in full helmet. How could we possibly be hearing him and such marvelous music, as well as dialogue, so clearly? Technical wizardry is my only answer.
Just prior to that scene, we were driven to the top of Elysian Park where we were escorted into a large, silver trailer. Once the four of us were inside, we were joined by two musicians playing the bass and tuba. In a trailer? Absolutely! And they were accompanying two characters dressed 50's style, she at the sink preparing celery for soup and he sitting at the booth in back reading a book. But when he opened the blinds, we were being taken through a car wash projected on a screen where the window would be. And all the while, beautiful singing, music and more technical wizardry surroundeded us.
And then there was "Hades" with Lucha climbing down to Jameson on the edge of the River Styx, then climbing back up and into the back of our Jeep, standing and singing as the wind whipped through her yellow dress and hair as we were driven down a dusty dirt road to the next awaiting limo. How was all that glorious music able to be heard? I just stopped wondering and enjoyed every single moment.
I am sure if I had been able to talk to anyone else on one of the other routes, their journeys would have been just as amazing and awe-inspiring. Then I discovered there is a way to do just that. There is a Central Hub where you can go FOR FREE during performances, listening to every one of the 24 scenes being performed live thanks to the handheld video cameras given to audience or cast members at each location. Headphones are provided beginning at 12:30pm each day, allowing those inside the Central Hub to watch and hear whichever of the episodes catches their attention, with each scene repeated 8 times as the limos tour around the routes during each session (10:45, 12:45, 2:45 start times). And at 4:30pm, the Grand Finale takes place at the Hub where many of the limos appear allowing singers and musicians to converge. I definitely plan to be there soon to experience all of that!
For more information about HOPSCOTCH, to view online animated episodes and read more about what scenes you will see along the various routes in any of the 24 limos, or to order your tickets (limit 4 per order), visit www.hopscotchopera.com. Be forewarned, most of the performances through November 15 are SOLD OUT, so don't wait! Individual tickets on all routes begin at $125, with weekly lotteries taking place online for $25 tickets. Or you can see all the episodes recorded live for FREE at the Central Hub at Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), 350 Merrick Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013, HOPSCOTCH performances take place and the Central Hub is open Saturdays and Sundays, October 31 - November 15, 2015 from 12:30pm - 5pm only.
And be prepared to be amazed by the incredible assemblage of technological wizardry thanks to everyone involved with this spectacular production by The Industry, directed by Yuval Sharon, with sound experience by Sennheiser.
Open your mind to a new way to experience L.A.
Jameson on his motorcycle follows our limo. Photo by Shari Barrett
"The Interlude" in an Airstream trailer with bass (Ben Finley) and tuba (Brandon Davis). Photo by Shari Barrett
A fortune teller (Julia Aks) alerts Lucha (Justine Aronson) about a future event. Photo by Shari Barrett
The fortune teller (Julia Aks) and her violinist (Madeline Falcone) watch the action unfold in Chinatown Plaza.
Photo by Shari Barrett
Lucha imagines visiting Jameson in "Hades.". Photo by Shari Barrett
The River Styx Voices. Photo by Shari Barrett
Rebekah Barton as Lucha scales a river bank and rides standing in a Jeep - singing the entire time.
Photo by Shari Barrett
Quayla Bramble is the Angel in "The Floating Nebula" Photo by Shari Barrett
Jameson (Micaela Taylor) and Lucha (Alisa Guardiola) face off as they dance around the "The Floating Nebula." Photo by Shari Barrett
Lucha and Orando celebrate their East L.A. roots
The two Luchas meet on the rooftops of L.A.
The accident where Jameson and Lucha meet.
You never know where Lucha's journey will take you! And what a ride and memories you will have!