Inflatable theater. You don't even know what it is yet, but you're already intrigued by the notion. Just thinking about it puts a smile on your face.
Basically, it's a theater production built around the creative use of inflatable props and garments. But is it really as simple as that? If you think so, you may be full of hot air yourself.
In fact, the Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater puts on a show of such great technical demand and acrobatic mastery that it's even possible those wacky Cirque du Soleil folks are looking over their shoulders in awe. There's juggling, mime and dance along with pneumatic feats involving various forms of rolling, bouncing, tumbling, clowning and everything in between.
"I coined the phrase 'inflatable theater' because we are the only ones doing it and we really didn't know what else to call it," said company founder Fred Garbo. "I came up with all these inventions and costumes, and the humor mainly comes from combining things that don't make a lot of sense, like lip-syncing to the Blues Brothers' 'Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance?)' while bouncing all over."
The duo of players is actor-gymnast-juggler-acrobat-inventor Garbo and his assistant, Brazilian ballerina Daielma Santos. Garbo was the acrobat inside of Barkley the Dog on Sesame Street and the guy in every other Broadway play in New York doing something cool like tumbling across the stage or juggling weird stuff. He's lived out the collective consciousness' adolescent dream of traveling all over the world and getting paid to bounce on soft, fluffy things. Lucky dog!
Garbo's initial vision of inflatable theater came from his first time recreationally skydiving. Falling from the sky, Fred took notice of the parachute material and it's colorful, strong, and packable nature. Garbo was inspired to approach a friend who built hot-air balloons and request a simple set piece. From there a whole stage full of inflatable gadgets found conception and movement through their creator.
"I've always loved making something inanimate breathe and come to life," said Garbo. "Our first costume attempt didn't work at all, but I took my acrobatic background and finally found the right vector and created this bubble guy that I named Fred Zeppelin -- he's large and roly-poly; it eventually became obvious to me that this inflatable man should meet an inflatable woman -- hence Diaelma."
Garbo met his stage partner on a flight to Brazil (it would seem Fred finds all his fortune in and around air) and decided that his show would be more fun with another dancer on stage and inflatable creations galore.
And of course, what would inflatable theater be without audience participation? This show is guaranteed to elicit flashbacks of your childhood moonwalk sessions at city fairs and fortunate kids' birthday parties.
All ages will enjoy the Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater; some say that the inflatable theater is akin to watching a live cartoon. To anyone who's seen Fred Garbo over the many years he's passed through Colorado, he promises the old favorite routines as well as a few new additions on this tour.
Don't blow this one off.
-- Matthew Schniper
Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater
Sangre de Cristo Arts Center Theater, 210 N. Santa Fe Ave.
Saturday, Feb. 26, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Tickets: $6; call 719/295-7222 for info.