After 115 Years Lunarium Makes a Trip to the Moon

Source: Brutally Beautiful Photography
Source: Brutally Beautiful Photography

Generation Z often gets teased for their lack of knowledge on technologies that were commonplace not too long ago. The rotary phone or the floppy disc, for example, will often leave a Gen Zer with their head tilted a little askew.

And though every generation is guilty of taking for granted advancements put forth by their predecessors, it is not until reflecting on several generations do we go from vaguely daft to outright ignorant.

With the exception to that rule The Crystalline Cabaret’s upcoming reimagining of the iconic 1902 film A Trip To The Moon. Filmed in France Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip To The Moon) is 115 years removed from the single show alternative dance interpretation Lunarium. To gauge how long ago that was, people born in the years surrounding the Georges Méliès directed masterpiece were birthed in the Interbellum Generation; some seven generations removed from Generation Z  (Born 1994-2010ish). During the pre-WW1 era, a film’s duration was clocked not by the amount of revolutions experienced by the minute hand on one’s pocket watch, but how long the coiling of film used to shoot the movie would unravel in the projector in terms of distance. In the case of A Trip To The Moon, the film would keep the audience seated for 260 meters in length. The other variable to consider is the speed that the film was played at. The faster the film rotations, the clearer and more fluid the images appeared. Using the 1902 French silent film A Trip To The Moon as an example, 260 meters would run roughly 18 minutes when being watched at 12 frames per second (fps), or 16 minutes when being viewed by the more powerful 14fps projectors of the day.

So why after seven generations worth of humans would the creative and alluring Julia Mauro of The Crystalline Cabaret, decide upon using A Trip To The Moon as inspiration for their alternative dance project Lunarium ? What with seven previous generations having had ample opportunity to tell and retell the story of Professor Barbenfouillis and his mission to build a rocketship in the shape of a bullet and blast it out of a cannon at the moon.

For starters the cinematic classic that ranked just behind Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on The Village Voice’s 100 Greatest Films of the 20th Century almost didn’t live long enough to be retold in the modern era; at least not the hand painted legendary version.

The achievements in motion picture making out of France, directed by illusionist Georges Méliès (who doubled as the film’s lead Professor Barbenfouillis), was considered “lost” for numerous decades. It was not until 1993 that a depreciated version of the 1902 film appeared in Barcelona’s The Filmoteca de Catalunya, a film archival house in Spain.

For 11 years between 1999 and 2010 crews worked on restoring the legendary film for digitization. Any of the missing 13,375 frames that were too damaged to be restored were taken from the film’s black and white version and recoloured by hand, one at a time.  

In 2017, A Trip To The Moon has been made accessible in much the same way as anything else that was once pricey and put to celluloid;  free and online.

As is the case with timeless art, Georges Méliès was inspired to make A Trip To The Moon from the writings of Jules Verne; specifically From The Earth To The Moon and Around The Moon. In conventional fashion, many directors, producers and visionaries have been influenced by the work of Méliès. One of those highly respected visionaries is a native of Vancouver, and she alongside The Crystalline Cabaret have arranged the aforementioned one-night-only presentation.

Lunarium , an alternative theatre reimagining of A Trip To The Moon, performs at East Vancouver’s Wise Hall on January 21, 2017.

A rehashing of Gilliam-like proportions, Lunarium is so galvanizing that it could have only been dreamed up by BPA Cohort III graduate, Julia Mauro.

With a cabaret and burlesque community in Vancouver that ranks among the best in the world, The Crystalline Cabaret somehow managed to hand-picked the corps d’élite for the Le Voyage dans la Lune adaptation.

Confirming our suspicions of the exceptional cast having been assembled by the Crystalline Cabaret creative director Ava Lure, the choice had really come down to two. Either Lure or fellow producer Portia Favro have enough heat right now to dare be the architect of a vision so wondrous, it could pull members of troupes that don’t often work together;  and present them with an unrefusable project to do just that.  

The flawless associate director of Pandora and the Locksmiths who also happens to be the managing producer of the Orchid Club, as well as the vice president of the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival (VIBF), Ava Lure has more names in her title than a law firm. Lending her back of house skills as well as her unforgettable stage show, with Lunarium Ava Lure once again proves why nobody in the last ten years has seen more growth in the alternative dance community than she has.

With too many credentials to list, Ariel Helvetica’s reputation as one of the best can only be outmatched by her resume. A dancer since birth, Helvetica’s impressive list of attributes include five years abroad as a showgirl dancing the can-can in France. Constantly on tour dancing in either competitions or performances, Helvetica’s passport saw 45 individual stamps prior to her switch from showstopping showgirl to burlesque beauty-queen some five and a half years ago.

Rumour has it that the former Wolfpack and current renaissance woman Anna May (fire) is systematically adding muay thai to her list of qualities she can utilize to bring one to their knees.

And as if being afforded the creme de la creme like Anna May from rulless performance art known as Omnika was not impressive enough, The Crystalline Cabaret brought in Chris Myrdock; last year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival Director’s Pick award recipient. The world renowned contact juggler will display why he was featured at last year’s Revolver Festival, as well as why the Cause & Effect Circus member won pick of the Victoria Fringe.

Nobody has been more active, seen faster personal success, or orchestrated more sold out dance performances in VanCity over the last three years than Portia Favro. The fact that super-producers Ava Lure and Portia Favro are performing on the same stage on the third Saturday of 2017 is as startling as it is an indication of an inevitable 1882 Adanac Street sell-out.                        

The cross-pollination of so many of the city’s different alt-dance factions makes the universally adored Favro invaluable to The Crystalline Cabaret.  Though Favro does not don a producer hat in this production, her ability to be a part of shows with consistent ticket yields combined with a shared emphasis on communication by Lure and Favro will no doubt result in success for the picture perfect pair of producers.   

The vaudeville reimagining of the iconic French classic A Trip To The Moon’s embarrassment of riches extends to the bottom of the call sheet and it appears that casting had a clear emphasis on grinders when looking at Lure’s selections. The constantly in motion Miss Kiss and Voodoo Pixie for example both share a tenacious work ethic, the former having appeared in the films The Adventures In Babysitting (reboot) and The Dead Mile. Along with her penchant for song and dance, Miss Kiss has quickly become one of the “go-to” hosts in the city. Having effectively wrangled the attention of the masses as the host of The Retro Strip Show II among many others, the former Disney Princess is consistently one of the premiere cosplayers in the city. Using any excuse to convincingly shift her shape, don’t be surprised if you see the four-year vet of the Pandora and the Locksmiths super troupe get mysteriously “replaced” by a similarly proportioned Harley-Quinn.

Performing in basically every show that flirts with burlesque and has even a hint of horror or sci-fi in it, if Voodoo Pixie is not in the credits; we’re not going to it.

The co-producer of the annual AbraCadaver Cabaret, Voodoo Pixie seemingly pops up and enhances most every burlesque show in the city. Often stealing the show with her versatile skills and looks, much like many of the horror movies icons she knows and loves; Voodoo Pixie brings magic.  

Despite her efforts to often draw focus away from her aesthetic, The Dark Entries podcaster and washboard playing badass can’t escape how deservedly sought after she is in the community.

Rounding the dance performers out with the obvious standout performer of potentially the best all around troupe in town, Justine Sane will leave the audience speechless time and time again. With a rare aggressiveness that comes from a beautifully genuine place, Justine Sane has a busy week with The Lost Girls Burlesque: Wicked Winter’s Eve and Lunarium on back-to-back Saturdays (January 14 & 21 respectively).  

Spectral Theatre’s veteran Vinnie Revolta will be essaying the role that the source material director Georges Méliès wore so well; Professor Barbenfouillis.

Famous for his b-movie inspired plays, Revolta is comfortable among the bizarre and will have his hands full as he travels to the moon in search of a solution to the world’s paramount concerns of overpopulation, pollution and centuries of war. Unexpectedly finding some sparkling gems originally thought to be trade-fodder for food once home, Revolta’s character soon learns that nothing on or off the planet is what it seems.

With more Captains for their respective professional squads than Hockey Canada, The Lunarium cast names alone should sell the Wise Hall out. With the fantastical source material as inspiration for some of the city’s most creative performers The Crystalline Cabaret Presents: Lunarium is a can’t miss.