Of songs and sketches



What: Palindrome
When: 8pm Fri.-Sat., Dec. 26-27
Where: iDiOM Theater, 1418 Cornwall Ave.
Cost: $8-$12

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Although I am fond of blathering on about the myriad music options this area offers, this embarrassment of riches does not exist 100 percent of the time. As painful as it is for me to admit, we do experience an entertainment dry spell from time to time.

One such dearth of ready amusement tends to occur directly post-Christmas—especially if the holiday falls directly prior to a weekend, as it does this year. Sure, opportunities abound to dance and sing karaoke—we are not savages, after all—but the abundance of live music opportunities we normally take for granted is not as much in evidence.

This is an opportunity someone should really take advantage of.

And so someone shall.

Enter the Incredible Incredible, a two-man physical theater troupe you may have heard of due to their performances at the Lookout Arts Quarry. Or it’s possible your familiarity with them comes from the fact that one-half of the duo, Justin Therrien (aka “JustinCredible”), is the current Guinness World Record holder for “Longest String Pulled through the Nose and Mouth in One Minute,” which is both a real record that exists and a reason I am happy I live on this Earth.

Past glory aside, Therrien and his multitalented partner Matthew “Poki” McCorkle have teamed up to create “Palindrome,” a brand-new show that combines all the physical theater gifts of the Incredible Incredible with an original soundtrack written and performed by Bellingham musician Lucas Hicks.

“Palindrome” is the story of two people, each the other’s imaginary friend, who meet for the first time in real life and attempt to make sense of the intricacies of such a situation. As one inevitably does under strange circumstances, they use invisible string manipulation, shoe poi, silverware acrobatics, creative dining, snail hats and finger tricks to figure things out.

While this is a theatrical performance—as evidenced by its taking place at the iDiOM—“Palindrome” also features a strong musical component, and Hicks’ involvement in it is no accident. Through his tenure in the ever-popular Gallus Brothers, practitioners of music and “mancrobatics,” Hicks has revealed his own theatrical side, and he’d long considered the prospect of exploring it further.

“JustinCredible and I had chatted about working together many times over the last several years, but schedules had never quite lined up,” Hicks says. “When he and Poki formed their circus company, Incredible Incredible, they set a short video of their acts to a recording I made featuring gourd banjo, bottles, toy piano and whatnot.”

That video eventually found its way to the New Orleans Fringe Festival, where it gained the Incredible Incredible an invite to perform at the fest, which led them to ask Hicks to be part of the piece they were creating. “The two of them had been at the top of my list of folks I’d always wanted to create a show with,” Hicks says, “so I jumped at the chance.”

Therrien and McCorkle got to work, fleshing out concept, characters and sketches, as well as the basic order and structure for the show, and brought the results to Hicks, who then married their theatrics to his musical sensibilities. The soundtrack to “Palindrome” is a mix of Hicks’ original music with other instrumental pieces the creative trio thought would be a good fit, retooled to suit mostly accordion and a small variety of percussion instruments.

“At the beginning,” Hicks says, “the plan was for me to play a wide range of instruments, but due to transition times and other considerations we mainly pared it down to accordion and percussion, which was great for a nice, full sound without having to bring seven different instruments to New Orleans.” And, much as the Incredible Incredible’s nascent sketches informed Hicks’ soundtrack, he says his music did the same for their show. “It was a magical thing to watch how the tone of their acts and the trajectory of their characters changed as soon as it was set to music.”

When they brought “Palindrome” to New Orleans, they had no idea how it would be received. As it turns out, they needn’t have worried. “The show sold out every night after opening and we received some great reviews,” Hicks says. “Having a chance to do the show four nights in a row was a great opportunity to tweak it and improve it daily. Plus New Orleans is the best. Seriously, the best.”

After their success at the Fringe Festival, deciding to bring the show to Bellingham was a no-brainer. And when the iDiOM had the Dec. 26-27 weekend available during its normally fairly crowded schedule, the idea of performing “Palindrome” for a home audience quickly became reality.

With several musical endeavors claiming Hicks’ time, and Therrien and McCorkle dealing with their own demands upon their agendas, the long-term future of “Palindrome” and future collaboration remains to be seen, but Hicks is optimistic.

“We definitely hope to do this show again as many places as we can,” he says. “The trick is finding a time when we’re all in the same place at the same time. I know Poki and Justin have plans to do more of this sort of thing with additional shows and I hope to be a part of it as much as possible.”

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