Review: Luminosity (2012)

Saturday, June 9, 2012 3:47 PM
Jeff's avatar

Cedar Point has a new evening midway show, and it fundamentally changes the character of the park at night. I've seen it twice so far, once during the preview week, and on its opening night.

First, it's important to think about where the park is coming from. For around 15 years (I don't know the starting year), the park had a big projection screen on what was once known as the "Million Dollar Midway," where a number of flat rides used to live. With Iron Dragon and Wildcat bordering the area, they would pack people into the area for a laser and fireworks show, with video and laser projections on the screen. Over the years, the show barely evolved, using the cheesiest "patriotic" themes, college fight songs and uninspired light shows. Tired doesn't even start to describe it.

So late in the off season, the park decides to scrap it, take down the screen, and build a stage for Luminosity, a show with live singers, dancers, drummers and aerial performers. The staging is essentially on par with an arena pop music concert. Lots of lights, video and of course, lasers. To keep it intimate, several large concrete "hockey pucks" are spread around the plaza for the performers.

The show is anchored by four singers, two male, two female, and a supporting dance troupe. The music is tracked, but the percussion is live. A constant mix of popular music flows from start to finish, mixing the current and classic in a reasonably seamless way. The show ends with a DJ platform that rises out of the stage, and starts a dance party that ends at some later time, after the park closes.

Luminosity succeeds in keeping the energy of the park's guests very high until the moment they leave. It's intended to cap the day with something visually energizing, in the way that Disney theme parks have for years using parades or night time shows (who doesn't think of Illuminations when they think of Epcot?). Cedar Point manages to do it in a way that is contemporary without alienating anyone. It may sound like hyperbole, but the character of the park is dramatically changed in a way that is completely unexpected. I didn't realize how stale the park had become until this show came along. It's a change for the better that will leave a remarkably good impression with people, and hopefully, bring them back.

To that end, the show definitely meets its goals of providing that "kiss goodnight," as the new CEO put it in his interview with me. As a piece of art, I think its worthy of a deeper critique.

The show has a loose theme of land, sea and air (and space) in terms of its video, costume and staging elements. While not necessary, it does elevate it slightly beyond a pop music variety show. It starts with a high energy impression, tapers off a little, and then builds in the last third. It is, perhaps, slightly too long. I'd drop the number with the song about New York, as it seems wildly out of place. I would keep the song with the female solo (the performer I saw nailed it on the first night I watched).

There are, as best I can tell, a pool of singers. Someone mentioned there were three of each gender, so I've seen all three women, but only two of the guys. The first show, one of the guys was not good at all, but he was solid the second time. Of the women, the one I saw doing the solo in my video absolutely blew me away. She's got pipes. Overall, they're a very capable bunch.

The dancers don't inspire me, necessarily, but I don't have any knowledge to judge them beyond the observation of some sloppy choreography. They're just not very tight yet, and I assume that will come sooner than later. The introduction of props seem to make it worse, especially the sails and the sea creatures. The dude with a seahorse pogo stick... it looks wrong on so many levels. The dancing is very contemporary, but the routines they work with don't have any "gee whiz" moments.

The staging is very over the top, in a good way. They use a lot of lighting elements and video tiles to overwhelm you with volume. It isn't always the most creative use of what they have, but there are subsets of cues that do a good job of exaggerating the scope of the stage. That's what I like to see. My opinion is that more automated fixtures up stage at the base of the scenery would exaggerate that scope even more, and "wrap" the viewing area on all sides.

There is one gimmick that they need to refine. At the end of the show, they use drums with water on them to make a visually interesting statement. I'd say it's borrowed from the Blue Man Group, but it doesn't use the elements that make it great. I understand that they don't use paint, which would look better than water, but they need to increase the intensity of the lighting from underneath, or consider a high frequency strobe. Also, if you really want to blow people away, mic those drums! With all of the percussion in this show, I never get that feeling of that driving, tribal beat that you get from a BMG show. There's a sonic opportunity there!

And let's make one thing clear. Using auto-tune was artistic exactly once, when Cher did it in 1998. It's the single worst thing in pop music today. It's awful in the show. You've got very talented singers, so why would you pipe their voices through that crap? For the love of all that is music, please, stop it. It's not cool, it's not trendy, it just irritates the **** out of me.

One minor pick... I don't like that the performers never get to take a bow. They deserve it. They just kind of fade into the background as the DJ takes over. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't like that.

Overall, it's a really entertaining show. As I said, it really changes the entire feel of the park for the better. I can only hope that this represents a renwed commitment to live entertainment at Cedar Point. I really believe it's a key part of the ideal experience at the park.


Jeff - Advocate of Great Great Tunnels™ - Co-Publisher - PointBuzz - CoasterBuzz - My Blog

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Saturday, June 9, 2012 5:24 PM

Jeff--I couldn't agree with this review more. Almost all of your thoughts really resonated with me.

I completely agree about the seahorse / dolphin / stingray props during the ocean number (I can't even remember what the song was; I was so focused on the ridiculousness of it all). What I'm assuming was supposed to be "cute" really felt wrong...

While I certainly share your resentment about the lack of a curtain call, I'm wondering if that was intentional. Were they trying to create a seamless transition between the actual show and the after party so as to trick people into staying longer?

As you mentioned, however, this show really changes CP for the better IMO.


Thrills Around the Corner!

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Saturday, June 9, 2012 5:25 PM

Great review. It's exciting that it turned out so well.

Was there a large crowd? If so, was it difficult to maneuver through that area of the park?

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Saturday, June 9, 2012 10:44 PM
Jeff's avatar

I think they absolutely want a seamless transition to the DJ, and it works. The show doesn't really "end." I just think it denies the audience a chance to give recognition to the performers.


Jeff - Advocate of Great Great Tunnels™ - Co-Publisher - PointBuzz - CoasterBuzz - My Blog

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Saturday, June 9, 2012 10:59 PM
Shawn Meyer's avatar

Jeff, Thanks for the review. I couldn't make it to Cedar Point this weekend, but I'm still looking forward to seeing Luminosity when I do make it. I'm thinking Monday is when I'll make it.


Rougarou laps: 150: Proud to be a Stark State graduate! Kings Island trips: 6 : Cedar Point trips: 5 : Go Tribe!

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Saturday, June 9, 2012 11:16 PM

The show really is amazing for what it is, and I do want to give a lot of credit to all of the techs and everyone else that has worked long hours getting everything set up and built. It really is a big production and the behind the scenes workers put a lot of work in to make this show something great and something, that I can only hope, the park will continue to build on in the future.


11 years.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012 11:46 PM

Jeff, did you happen to post that high-def video of Luminosity's opening night on P'Buzz? I saw it on FB, of course, but haven't spotted it here.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012 12:19 AM

I agree that the show is probably a little too long. It feels like they could trim 8-10 minutes off to really keep the energy up all the way through the DJ and fireworks segments.


"Thank the Phoenicians!"

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Sunday, June 10, 2012 1:46 AM

1. Is the 25 minute length posted on Cedar Point's website not accurate?

2. How was the area in terms of crowds?

3. I know it's early on, but was it difficult to get a good seat in front of the stage?

4. Was Wild Cat's space put to good use?

5. Where was the VIP seating?

Last edited by Ffej, Sunday, June 10, 2012 2:11 AM
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Sunday, June 10, 2012 2:29 AM

Ffej said:
1. Is the 25 minute length posted on Cedar Point's website not accurate?

2. How was the area in terms of crowds?

3. I know it's early on, but was it difficult to get a good seat in front of the stage?

4. Was Wild Cat's space put to good use?

5. Where was the VIP seating?

1. No, it's not. While I didn't time it, I think the show hit more around the 40 minute mark.

2. Crowds looked to be a nightmare (in terms of people passing through). Then again, I was looking at it all from the Good Time Theatre patio so I can't really comment first hand...

3. There aren't any seats right in front of the stage, so you have to stand (think mosh pit). Overall, even on opening night, it looked like there was plenty of standing room down there.

4. No comment. I didn't see the area during the day.

5. The VIP event was held on a cordoned off patio by the Good Time Theatre, overlooking Luminosity.


Thrills Around the Corner!

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Sunday, June 10, 2012 11:55 AM
99er's avatar

While as crowded as it was, they did a good job at handling the crowd. It wasn't any different from when the old laser screen was there and people tried to move through the crowd.

As for getting a good "seat", I think a lot of people were confused and didn't realize that they could get all the way up to the stage. Most people made an imaginary line around the stage and wouldn't move closer.


-Chris
Remember, if you're arguing on the internet, you've already lost.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012 4:27 PM
Walt's avatar

I noticed that too. Made me feel awkward when I move up into the empty space for close shots. :)


Walt Schmidt - Co-Publisher, PointBuzz
PointBuzz on Twitter | Facebook | YouTube
Home to the Biggest Fans of the World's Best Amusement Park

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Sunday, June 10, 2012 7:18 PM
TTD 120mph's avatar

It's not truly awkward till you start saying, "Work it baby, work it!" :)


-Adam G-

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Sunday, June 10, 2012 11:36 PM
Jeff's avatar

Ensign Smith said:
Jeff, did you happen to post that high-def video of Luminosity's opening night on P'Buzz? I saw it on FB, of course, but haven't spotted it here.

What I shot is from Tuesday night. Diana and I had a babysitter for Simon on Friday night, and enjoyed the food and drink. Matt O. summarily dismissed me to talk to Diana. Real charmer, that CEO. :) I was not shooting video.


Jeff - Advocate of Great Great Tunnels™ - Co-Publisher - PointBuzz - CoasterBuzz - My Blog

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Monday, June 11, 2012 10:22 AM

Jeff is right this show changes the vibe of the park at night. I think it hits the target. It makes Hot Summer Lights and the others seem like watching a movie in the elementary school gym.

My family watched the show Friday from near the stage and Saturday from the bleachers.They literally have 360 degrees of action going on for those watching from the midway and that doesn't include the flames, lasers and fireworks up above.

I prefer standing on the midway. You can see much more, even though you must turn around to see some of the show. The bleachers are off to the side of the projection tower and depending on your seat location the view of some of the elements of the show is obstructed by the tower.You are also behind some of the screens. They are the most cramped bleachers I've even sat on. I've never been so uncomfortable in my life. I kepted getting kneed in the back on top of that. They look like they are used, and slapped up fast. They may just be a quick fix. I would hope they will replace them with something better for next year.

I think the crowd was good sized both nights. Watching from the bleachers I could see no problem for people passing through what so ever.

Saturday we left the park at 10:45, long after closing and the DJ was still playing music and the lights were going on the stage. Looks like people were staying to be part of it.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012 2:35 AM
Ralph Wiggum's avatar

I admittedly haven't seen the show myself, but the reviews I've heard from friends who have seen it have been very positive. The only thing that every single person has mentioned was that the singing overall was just not very good. I don't know if it's the auto-tuned crap that Jeff mentioned or what, but hopefully they will get the vocals worked out.

Nobody else I've talked to mentioned the awkward choreography that people are talking about here, so I guess I'll just need to see it for myself. If only I knew when that will be... :(


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012 4:07 AM

I haven't seen it in person yet, only videos. But, I figured the singing might be an issue, especially when doing songs from Adele or Alicia Keys. Those songs are always going to get compared with the original artists, and they're very difficult to pull off.

That's why I noticed that the songs like Jennifer Lopez - On the Floor worked better. The vocals were much easier to pull off, as the songs were more about bass and dancing.

I can't believe that Cedar Point was content with posting their official Luminosity video; I cringed at times -- Jeff's was much better at highlighting some strengths. I respect that they're doing this live, but I wonder if it would have been better off lip syncing a live recording during some parts of the show.

Anyway, I'm more interested in the after dance party at this point. Anyone know what kind of dance music they're playing? If it's mostly songs like Pink - Raise Your Glass like I saw in the video, then I might have to just pass.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012 6:17 AM
djDaemon's avatar

Ffej said:
...I wonder if it would have been better off lip syncing a live recording during some parts of the show.

Far too risky, in my opinion. Imagine the embarrassment of people learning your new $6 million Live Entertainment show isn't really live. And I can only imagine what the reaction would be among enthusiasts.


Brandon

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012 6:39 AM
Ralph Wiggum's avatar

No riskier than the actual artists who all do it at their own concerts. That might be the biggest drawback with attempting to replicate that music, it's hard to compete live with something that's been so processed and polished in the studio.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:18 AM

One thing I've noticed at Cedar Point across many of the live shows over the years is how bad harmonizing is slaughtered. The singers need to sing at similar intensities and at the exact same time to pull it off, and they just rarely do.

So, like when they did Britney Spears - Til the World Ends, the "Woah oh oh oh oh oh woah" part they attempt to harmonize. But, you just hear those off harmonized keys independently, and it just ends up sounding very off key.

This was something my friends kept driving me nuts about during last season's big stage Halloween musical. They kept saying, "These singers can't sing in key at all!" And I kept defending, "No, it's just that they're trying to harmonize, and they're not pulling it off."

Maybe they should all just try to sing together in the standard key; forget the harmonizing.

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