Get the inside scoop on the big-screen magic in 'The Hollywood Special Effects Show'
Simulated gunshots, ear-piercing explosions, a blazing inferno — and other cool thrills that put the "action" in action movies — will be live onstage when "The Hollywood Special Effects Show" comes to town for one performance on Feb. 5 at the Byham Theater.
The U.K.-based theatrical production currently on its first U.S. tour is an exciting and educational journey through the more secretive side of cinema, according to actor Alexandra Brynn, one of the show's presenters.
"You'll come away with a greater insight into the world of movie magic and have a lot of fun at the same time," says Brynn, who originally is from Vancouver, Canada and now lives in London.
"The Hollywood Special Effects Show" has toured Great Britain since 2015 playing venues across the country, she says, including a run in Birmingham Arena where it was performed for more than 16,000 people in four days.
In the touring show, Brynn and a team of professionals behind the special effects for major film, television and theater productions — including "The Dark Knight Rises," "Guardians of The Galaxy," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Game of Thrones" — will share some back-stage secrets of illusions that can be challenging for different reasons.
"The truck flip in 'Dark Knight' has a large amount of risk attached to it," she says. "That was done for real using a ram built into the underside of the trailer to send the whole vehicle head-over-heels. Obviously, there's a lot that can go wrong there.
" 'Guardians' has a lot of digital effects which are painstakingly created to be as realistic as possible alongside the actors on screen, as well as make-up effects which can take hours to prepare before each day's shoot."
Computer effects have come a long way in the past five to 10 years, Brynn points out.
"Fire and water have always been very tricky to get right with computer generated imagery and even these are getting closer and closer to being photorealistic," she says. "We're also seeing more use of motion capture technology now — this is when an actor films the scene in a suit covered with markers, then in post-production those markers are tracked to allow the performer to be transformed into any computer generated creature, but maintain the movement and expression of the original performance."
"The Hollywood Special Effects Show" team encourages audience participation.
"Whether you want to be a stunt man, horror movie star or the new Terminator, we've got a role for you," the actor says.
The show is geared to family audiences and it uses a large number of pyrotechnic and other special effects, which may include strobe lighting, smoke and haze, airbursts and gun flashes.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.