IF YOU GO
What: Mythology - in an Old West setting - with music
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7 and 2 p.m., Sunday. Jan. 8. at The Sanibel Community House, at 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 11 at The Community School of Naples, located at 13275 Livingston Road
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12; 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13; and Saturday, Jan. 14 at The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center at 2301 First Street in Fort Myers
Cost: $20 adults, $10 children; liveactionset.org (click TICKETS AND TOUR INFO)
On the Web: Get more information about "The 7-Shot Symphony" and read their press release at the Stage Door blog.
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What happens when you combine Thor, Odin and a bunch of gun-toting cowpokes straight out of Dodge? Toss in some dance moves, Stetsons and tunes from Minnesota country band Tree Party. You've got yourself the makings of what's being billed as "The 7-Shot Symphony (aka The Kickass Cowboy Show)."
Southwest Florida audiences will get six chances to see the gods gambol in the Old West during the next few days. "The 7-Shot Symphony" plays dates in Sanibel on Jan. 7 and 8, Naples on Jan. 11 and Fort Myers from Jan. 12-14.
Conceived in 2010 by Minneapolis theater group Live Action Set, "The 7-Shot Symphony" mixes movement, music, mythology and rough-and-tumble stereotypes from the cowboy culture of America's Old West into one thrilling show.
Noah Bremer, Live Action Set's artistic director, laughs as he explains the "Kickass Cowboy Show" subtitle.
"For people who don't necessarily know us," Bremer said. "It kind of says what the show is in a very plain and easy to digest way that can excite people."
And it is exciting. Bremer repeatedly refers to the show as "cinematic" when describing "The 7-Shot Symphony."
"Cinematic" in this sense means that Live Action Set literally attempted to translate camera angles, techniques and other movie magic mojo used in filming Westerns to the stage.
"One of the challenges we posed to ourselves when creating the show was trying to take basic ideas in cinematography, film and camera angles and try to put them to the stage," performer and musician Jenna Wyse said. "We try to create camera angles and close-ups - but it is all with our bodies."
For example, performers will imitate a long shot of figures moving across a landscape - a classic in old Westerns - by moving their fingers across an arm. Imagine a close-up - with the face slammed next the camera - but instead of a camera, a face peers out of two hands jammed onto the performer's cheeks.
For two hours, the show mashes myths and legends into the tumbleweeds, pistols and ponies of the West. Think Orpheus and Eurydice - except this maiden doesn't get bitten by a snake and stolen to the underworld. Instead, she's kidnapped by a bandit named Snake and taken to a saloon run by Hades. There are also visits from Thor, Odin, Gilgamesh, Far East figures Enkidu and Masamune, plus Caribbean trickster Anansi.
"One of the impetuses for creating the show was the word 'epic,'" Live Action Set executive director Joanna Harmon (a 2004 Community School of Naples graduate) said. "Myths are inherently epic stories. You can argue that the Old West is America's last epic time period with cowboys and frontiers of endless possibilities."
While the actors perform without sets or props, the cowboy theme lends itself to "a lot of hats," including cowboy hats and dusters. No cowboy boots though - actors are all barefoot during the show. But lots of finger guns.
Music plays a big part in "The 7-Shot Symphony." Minneapolis-based Tree Party performs live during the show. To create the music, Wyse and band mate Joey Ford would attend Live Action Set rehearsals, videotape the action, go back to Tree Party rehearsals, write music and shuttle back and forth until a sound emerged.
"We just wanted a challenge to work with some more visual artists to putting a soundtrack to a live performance like this," Wyse said. "We had our work cut out for us, but I think it really adds to the show."
Tree Party takes the stage with a violin, mandolin, electric guitar and upright acoustic bass. Some members - including Wyse - also go back and forth between playing instruments and performing in "Symphony."
At the end of the day - despite the gods and myths and music - "The 7-Shot Symphony" does boil down to a "kickass cowboy show." The heroes win. Good triumphs over evil - and the bad guy gets it in the end.
Harmon wants audiences to be inspired by the show - and in particular "inspired by something they've never seen before and didn't know was possible."
Gods. Cowboys. Music. Movies. Ten actors. One stage. Gonna be epic.