The creative genius that is Shadowbox Live in downtown Columbus' Brewery District, opened its original production Stage 2 production, "Vampires" , August 23rd, with all of the thrills, chills, and mind-blowingly good talent of its previous shows, blending its grungy rock-band core with fabulous music and dance. While vampires certainly seem to be en vogue these days, Shadowbox never blindly follows pop culture, and this sexy, supernatural show is not for the Team Edward crowd. With numbers from the likes of Queensryche, Blue Oyster Cult, and Nine Inch Nails, Shadowbox blends industrial metal music with beautiful contemporary dance to tell the story behind various aspects of life as a creature of the night.
Beginning with "Ambush" from Stev Guyer's "Evolution", the stage came alive with vampires of all sorts, writhing onto the stage from the audience as well in wickedly devilish costumes, to induct victims Leah Haviland and Stacie Boord into their coven. The costumes were a lovely mix of Victoria's Secret gone paranormal, and Goth creating an effect that was enticingly evil. "Scary Monsters" by David Bowie, was performed next by the lovely and superbly talented Edelyn Parker, but I found this song choice unimpressive for such a tremendous voice, and it seemed to slow the intensity of the show following the dynamic first number. "Devolution", another number from Stev Guyer's original "Evolution" followed, but it wasn't until the generally somber, "Possession", by Sarah MacLaughlin that I was drawn back in to the depth of the performance again. With Stephanie Shull on lead vocals and Stacie Boord backing her, this number was hauntingly beautiful, Boord providing the perfect sweet, soulful undertone to the heavier-voiced Shull's lead. Katy Psenicka's expert choreography shines throughout the largely dance-featured show, but is particularly well-done in this number with a freeze-frame sort of montage that really depicted the "soul" of a vampire struggling over taking her victim's life. Also from "Evolution"-"Surveillance", with another amazing talent, Julie Klein, on lead vocals was up next. Nikki Fagin was fabulous as the victim to Stacie Boord and Katy Psenicka's vampires. Fagin is a beautiful dancer, as are Boord and Klein, a captivating contrast between the embodiment of fear and the calculated evil of the vampiress killers.
Leave it to Noelle Grandison to blow the roof off with the next two numbers, Stabbing Westward's "Save Yourself", and an insanely good interpretation of Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited". Grandison has such a great belt, with the perfect mix of soul and rasp and it added to the electricity of the Elizabethan costumed vampire dance number, a surprisingly delightful change from the earlier back-alley grunge vampire scene. The Countess Bathory (Katy Psenicka) directs servant dancers (Andy Akrom, JT Walker III, David Whitehouse, and Jamie Barrow) to induct her victims (Betsy Shortt, Edelyn Parker, Renee Horton, Nikki Fagin, and Amy Lay) through a waltzing dance number that is eerily beautiful, seductive, and elegant. Boord was up next with lead vocals on The Deftones' "Change in the House of Flies", an equally electric dance number with new vampire, Amy Lay, going through the transformation to immortality under the guidance of Boord. JT Walker II on lead vocals of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" brought the tone down a little softer in preparation for Amy Lay's rendition of "Sour Times" by Portishead, both of which were somber and slower, but allowed the audience to catch its breath from the intensity of the previous numbers. Act I closed with one of the most beautiful dance numbers of the evening, featuring the stunning Renee Horton as a new vampire, with the ensemble in masquerade costumes dancing her through her induction. Another elegant, and eerily gorgeous performance.