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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Weather; Underground 

Well, rainorama! Fall has arrived early if only temporarily. And it's hardly fair to fully damn the days: I was wandering around downtown in short sleeves this evening.

The Lovely One and I went to the Storeyeum today, lured primarily by the irresistible-for-strange-personal-reasons advertising slogan, "it's story time" (to put this in perspective, one of our hobbies is finding businesses with imperative names, such as our local laundromat: "Drop Your Laundry." Yes, we like words). I give it a mixed review. The show seemed to be a succession of lavish sets (essentially, there are a series of different venues in the Storeyeum show, each big enough to hold 200 people) with some pretty impressive effects, passable acting, and decent-but-predictable storytelling.

What is the Storeyeum? It's a 72-minute (nominal; our show ran rather long for some reason) live-actor multimedia history show, covering British Columbia history from the time of the natives to the arrival of the railroad. It does so with some wit, a moderate amount of insight, and as a reasonably entertaining show. The back of the ticket

It's not cheap ($22 regular admission for adults; we had coupon that gave a slight discount). But you can see that they could hardly do the show for less. The whole thing apparently cost some considerable millions of dollars to build, and I completely believe that. We're talking a full-sized (or nearly so) mobile steam locomotive replica as a key part of one of the nine sets (and the others are in that realm of elaboration, too).

That said, I had to compare it to the gold standard in stagecraft and showmanship, Disneyland. And it suffers by comparison, and also in absolute terms. The worst part is that we're talking millions of dollars of technology and set design, but I would get distracted by things that really indicated that the last ten percent hadn't been sweated over. Examples: in the "native forest" set, the ancient tree, which is a key part of the tale, rises up realistically until it gets tangled in a maze of piping and HVAC vents clearly visible at ceiling level. The graphics in several parts of the show were horribly scaled and had visible jaggie artifacts, not to mention graphics showing trade routes and regions that looked like the worst sort of Powerpoint dreck. Unacceptable in a presentation that must have cost as much as this one did, and the person in charge should not have signed off on that one. A projection in one of the two 200-person super-elevators distractingly shot its image against the upper door, which was pretty distracting. It would have been pricey to put a properly seamless door in there that looked like part of the white walls until it opened, but it would have been the right thing to do. Nitpicky? Yes. But I make no apology. Considert that these tickets cost nearly what an evening at Bard on the Beach would set you back (and by comparison, Bard is the one I would recommend).

Great for kids and school groups, though. On balance, I would not recommend it to adults unless you had a special interest in multimedia presentations or local history. But if you do go, I offer you this potentially lucrative spoiler: in the final elevator (following the "train station" set featuring the full-sized moving locomotive), they gave away an Old Spaghetti Factory gift certificate to the person standing on a "lucky X" marked on the floor of the lift. I didn't see where they were standing, but that's something to keep in mind if you go. Let me know if you use this advice to win some free pasta.

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