Main Stage Series opens with ARTRAGEOUS!

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Be prepared to be engaged. That's the advice from the Sumter Opera House staff for the opening performance of its Main Stage Series, Artrageous!

At 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, Before the audience even enters the auditorium, they'll be invited to participate in several activities in ARTexperience.

There will be face painting, tap dancing demonstrations and several make-and-take tables with art projects provided by local artists. Take a picture in front of a dripping paint backdrop, draw on a cast member and indulge in some bubble wrap therapy by doing the "Bubble Wrap Stomp" - bubble wrap provided - during the show proper.

When the curtain finally rises at 7:30 p.m., patrons should already be primed for an exciting evening, during which an artist will create a painting on stage, and other cast members will entertain with singing, "intricate choreography and exciting audience interaction ... (during) a unique visual journey packed with wild inspiration and eye-pleasing entertainment," according to Sumter Opera House Manager Seth Reimer.

The Artrageous troupe comprises artists, musicians, vocalists, life-size puppets and dancers, all performing in diverse art forms. At the end, the stage will become a veritable art gallery, filled with paintings completed during the show.

Artrageous got its start when a troupe of performers got together in the 1980s in Vancouver, Canada, and started what they called the "All and Everything Theater," a nonprofit children's theater that included street theater and life-sized Bunraku Puppetry, a centuries-old traditional Japanese form of theater. Following a fire that destroyed their theater and all their equipment, the troupe reorganized as the music-based Pink Flamingos, a popular act that performed around the world.

According to their press release, "As people who live and breathe Arts, Creativity, Community and Inspiration, they have decided to go back to their roots and share their passion with the world as Artrageous, a show that focuses on all the things they believe in and everything that got them to this place - Art, Music, Theater, Singing, Dancing, Audience Interaction, all on one stage. All done as a team of friends seeing the world and sharing a love of the Arts."

Following their performance, the Artrageous cast will meet audience members in the Sumter Opera House lobby, to sign portraits, hand out photos and say goodbye. They'll leave behind some of their artwork created during the show.

In addition to their 7:30 Thursday program, the Artrageous cast will also present a special ArtREACH program at 9:45 that morning. The educational program will be targeted specifically for students in grades 6 through 12 and will take them behind the scenes to learn about what performing artists do today, answer their questions and introduce them to different art genres. Students will learn what skills are needed to be a professional artist and to run a company. The students will also see a shortened version of the Artrageous evening show in the opening presentation in the 2017-18 Main Stage Series presentation. Call (803) 436-2616 for more information.