By Dee Fisher
By Dee Fisher

There seems to be a new wave of interest in 3D movies nowadays. I can remember the days when you had the cardboard "glasses" with one red "lens" and one blue "lens". It all seemed very advanced technologically until computer graphics first came out. As each generation of animation appears more and more realistic, the older CG and even older 3D technology seems incredibly dated.

Today's 3D is quite impressive, making you feel a real part of the action. I only know one person (who shall remain nameless) who, due to the eye condition called amblyopia (we knew it years ago as "lazy eye") cannot see the great attraction of 3D technology. He is physically incapable of seeing anything in 3D because one of his eyes cannot focus properly, and never will. To him, 3D makes no sense at all.

And, in a way, going to all the trouble of paying extra for the privilege of seeing a two-dimensional image transformed into a three-dimensional one seems silly when "live action" entertainment has been available for thousands of years. It's called "theatre."

I went to a movie theatre to see the hit movie "Les Miserables" last weekend, something I'd wanted to do since it opened Christmas week. Les Miserables is one of my favorite musicals. I've seen it twice, once in Columbus and once in New York, and it never fails to move me. The music, the story-the whole package speaks to me in ways that other musical s don't. And, sure enough, I found myself in tears more than once in the more than two and a half hours I sat in front of the big screen.

Many stage musicals have been made into movies, from the advent of the medium. I enjoy watching the classic works of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the wonderfully plot less movie musicals of the 1930's whenever I get a chance. But there is something about watching a live performance that is unmatched when you watch a filmed version of the same production, even of the same cast.

Having done live performances for nigh on to thirty years, I can tell you, from the other side of performance, there is a certain natural high that comes from putting everything on the line in front of an audience. I know it sounds like a cliché, but there are no two performances that are the same. I stopped counting the number of shows I've done when I hit 100 (that doesn't count multiple performances of the same production), and I can tell you that I still approach performance with a certain amount of trepidation as well as enjoyment. You just never know what's going to happen!

Van Wert Civic Theatre is preparing to open the third production of the 2012-13 season, Big River. It follows the general outline of the plot of Mark Twain's book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, complete with the main characters "floating" down the mighty Mississippi on a wooden raft. Yes, that's right. A raft! Other character move in and around the audience as they help tell their portion of the story of Huck and the runaway slave, Jim. Will this cast be able to pull off the difficult job of becoming people of another culture and century? I believe they can and will, but their job is made more difficult when "things" happen.

"Things?" Oh, yes, things that oftentimes the cast can do nothing about. I've seen wardrobe malfunctions, prop malfunctions, set malfunctions, and even audience malfunctions! Lights blow out or just don't come on; bats fly out of belfries into the audience; Mother Nature herself interferes with severe weather that creates havoc with outside productions. You just never know what to expect, no matter how well prepared you are.

And therein lays one of the addictive aspects of live theatre. Yes, to bring the words on the page to life is in itself rewarding. But the leap of faith one makes when you walk out in front of an audience-well, there's nothing quite like it. Then, when the performance works, and the audience applauds, the real rush comes. The sound of hands being struck together in appreciation of what you've just done on stage is one of the sweetest sounds a human can hear, and it makes the days and weeks of rehearsal and preparation seem a small price to pay for such an awesome payback.

Patrons can call (419) 238-9689 this week to make reservations to see Big River. If you're not a patron or a season ticket holder (and why aren't you?), you'll have to wait until next Monday, Jan. 21, to call in your reservations. Performances will be Jan. 24, 25, 26, 27, 31; Feb. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9, all at 8:00 except for the 2:00 Sunday matinees. Come out and see the oldest form of 3D entertainment-live theatre!

See you at the show!