The Voca People - The Off Broadway Sensation Returns to NYCOctober 17, 2011 - by Griffin Miller, Theatre Editor
New York City to Planet Earth: “The Voca People have landed.” Repeat: “The Voca People have landed. Prepare humankind for audio transmission.” Correction: Make that audio transformation -- these aliens communicate in transcendent ways.
Yes, visually they do resemble a profoundly white-washed Blue Man Group -- only instead of props, paint, and physical insanity, The Voca People express themselves via sound: tongue-twisting percussive, string, brass, and bagpipe effects conjured through their cosmically enhanced vocal chords.
After a successful run Off Broadway last fall, the Voca People are back beginning tonight, February 16, at New World Stages (340 W. 50th St.). Click here to purchase tickets, or call 212-239-6200.
And their most potent super powers lie in song. Pick any genre; through their intergalactic mind-melding skills, they are able to channel the music in constant free-floating form from earthling brains and convert it into a cappella nirvana.
Discovered by Lior Kalfo and Shai Fishman two years ago, The Voca People have a backstory unlike any other musical group. Period.
Explains creator/director/choreographer Kalfo: “While sitting in an upstate New York farmhouse, I heard a blast and saw a spaceship crash near the cows.” He goes on to relate how the extraterrestrial crew of eight (thankfully, all survived) introduced themselves and explained their musical mission/mantra: “Life Is Music and Music Is Life.” (Evidently, on their home planet “Voca,” everyone communicates exclusively through music and vocal expressions.)
Impressed, Kalfo and Fishman were moved to help The Voca People put together a show that would allow them to “spread their unique musical talents throughout the galaxy.”
To date, the alien octet has performed to sold-out houses throughout Europe, South America, and the Middle East but in the here and now, their current open-ended Off-Broadway run marks the first time the group has performed in the U.S.
According to Kalfo, the show itself is loosely based on The Voca People’s actual crash landing on Earth. “The show starts with an off-stage spaceship crash, followed by The Voca People coming onto the stage.”
As they attempt to orient themselves within their new surroundings, they discover the microphone, a bit of technology they’d never encountered before. “And they become excited as they discover how it enhances sound,” continues Kalfo, adding that at first they’re rather afraid of the audience, “until they hear the music inside their heads.” (FYI: To restore their spaceship to working order, The Voca People require energy -- musical energy -- and the vast musical library floating about theatergoer craniums is key.)
Some audience interaction is, of course, inevitable -- particularly when you consider the familiar songs being performed are like catnip to humans. But the music is only part of the picture thanks to Kalko’s own background as a writer, director, and comic actor (he co-wrote and starred in one of Israel’s most popular TV comedy series, the multi-award-winning The Comedy Store). “It’s definitely not just a cappella,” he says. “There’s a lot of theatre, choreography, and comedy, too.”
You can check out The Voca People on their droll website (voca-people.com) and/or sample their vocal acrobatics on YouTube, but let’s get real: Nothing measures up to a close encounter of the first-rate kind. Reserve your tickets ASAP.
In the final analysis, the production “demonstrates that pure vocal sounds are more astonishing than instruments,” says the show’s accomplished musical director, arranger, and composer. “We hope that the show will enchant the ear and bring laughter to the mind while it touches the heart.”
The Voca People is now playing at New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St. For reservations, call 212-239-6200, click here, or visit VocaPeopleNYC.com.