Experience like none other: Artrageous to bring energy-packed show to Paramount

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2024

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It’s been seven years since the interactive artistic experience of Artrageous has been in Austin, but for those who were at the troupe’s last show it was likely an experience like none other.

That experience is coming back to the Paramount Theatre this coming Sunday at 2 p.m.

The show comes to life through the energetic combination of art, song and audience participation with a history that dates back to the 1980s and the street performers who first started pulling the experience together.

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That history was before Lauri Francis’ time with the troupe, but the heritage of that foundation continues today with a show people aren’t likely to forget.

“Each show is so, so different because we involve the audience so very much,” she said. “ With Artrageous, the audience is such a part of the journey. Each audience is so different in how much they want to be involved. How can we create that energy together?”

That energy creation is what enlivens the experience of the show, which starts prior to each season when the troupe sits down and begins planning out what they envision the show to look like.

“We talk about goals and what we would like to see accomplished on the tour,” Francis said. “Things we want to add and things we want to take out. “

Those plans often take on a broad view and each time adopts the attributes of the audience itself which acts like a guide as to how the shows will go.

Each show invites audience participation, giving those in attendance the chance to come on stage or dance in the aisles, while at the same time the members of Artrageous bring pieces of art to life on stage.

“We just try to make it so joyful and an experience the parents and children are going to share and create memories together,” Francis said. “Come out on an ordinary day and get the kindness and attention that everybody needs so much right now.”

It’s more than an audience connection, however. It goes deeper than the show itself as the troupe meets with the audience, plays games and gives prizes away prior to the show as well as inviting people on stage after the show to mingle and view the art that was created in real time before them.

The connection, Francis said, is what drives the experience of Artrageous.

“It’s quite huge to just make those connections ahead of time before we start our performance, because we are such a family experience,” she said. “We’re total goofballs.”

With that aspect comes the possibility of release and opening up within the audience.

Each year, Artrageous plays to around 50 shows, but that doesn’t include the smaller engagements in places like schools. It was at a school where Francis was provided an example of just what it meant to see an audience come out of their shells.

“It is so incredible. Literally, it’s the best part of what we do,” Francis said. “We were performing for a bunch of high school students in Ohio. They were so shy. We encourage participation, and you never know what happens when you break through their boundaries.”

She remembers one student in particular.

“By the end of it, she was on her feet and afterwards she told me we saved her life,” Francis remembered.

It’s an experience that can leave an impact on the troupe itself and with each show brings a new opportunity for Artrageous and its performers.

“We definitely play off the audience’s energy,” Francis said, adding later: “We just work so well as a team. We really just support each other.”

The art that is created on stage also adds to the lasting impression of an Artrageous experience. Some of the pieces are give away through contests and still others are given to the theaters the troupe performs at to auction off in an effort to raise money.

Even with all of this, Francis said there is even more that is possible on the horizon and that Sunday afternoon’s show will provide a glimpse of that magic.

“I feel like there’s always so much more that can be done,” she said. “We travel together as a family … we enjoy the challenge of trying to create new things. The goal is to make the next show better than our last.”

Doors open at 1:30 p.m. For more information or tickets, visit: austinareaarts.org.