Having shown in over 40 countries around the world LEO will be presented at BYU-Idaho for the first time on Friday, Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and again on Saturday, Jan. 16 at the same time in the Eliza R. Snow Center for the Performing Arts.
Gregg Parks, the Creative Producer of LEO and leader of Y2D Productions, said the show tells the story of a man who finds himself alone in a room and eventually realizes something about the room: there is a problem with gravity.
“At first it kind of freaks him out,” Parks said. “But then he starts playing with it, and then he starts having fun with it.”
Parks said that throughout the piece LEO uses this tweak in gravity and his imagination to entertain himself, including playing on the walls.
“It’s a very funny piece,” he said. “There’s an enormous amount of humor in the work.”
Julian Shulz, who will be performing the role of LEO at BYU-I, said that the humor is one of his favorite parts of the show.
“I really enjoy when I hear the audience laugh about my performance,” he said. “That is a very satisfying feeling.”
Eventually though, Parks said that LEO tires of his personal anti-gravity playground and wants to be free of his confinement.
“It encapsulates what many of us go through in life in terms of having to find our own way out of solitude, our own way out of isolation, our own way out of being trapped in something,” Parks said.
Parks said that audiences from all walks of life can relate to the story of LEO.
“As his situation evolves, we become more and more caught up in it and concerned by it and touched by it so that by the end of the show we’re very much caught in his dilemma with him,” he said. “It’s a big part of why people respond so well to it, because they relate very much personally with the character themselves.”
Parks said that audiences of all ages enjoy LEO.
“One of the strengths of LEO is that it’s not designed for any specific audience. At this point LEO’s played in 40 different countries. It’s played to all age groups from young, to old, to in between.”
Parks said that one of the elements of LEO that makes the show so universally appealing is the piece’s incorporation of live video and theater simultaneously.
Jennifer Gresham, a sophomore studying theater studies, said she is looking forward to seeing how the technical side of the show works.
“I’ve seen a lot of shows, but I’ve never seen an anti-gravity show before,” Gresham said.
Parks said the combination of live video and theater tends to captivate the audience.
“People are constantly watching the screen and live performance to constantly compare the two,” he said.
Parks said that LEO originated from a character in a previous cabaret show called “My Life” that he had helped produce in Berlin, Germany, during 2008-2009. The show was comprised of multiple performances by a variety of performers. At the time, the character who later became LEO had three, two-minute sections in the piece, and was known as the “Wall Clown.”
“He was playing in a room, and he was playing on the wall, so we called him the ‘Wall Clown,’” he said.
Parks said the show ran for a year and during that time, the original performer and idea behind the character, Tobias Wegner, continued to add material to his pieces and they evolved into three, five-minute sections.
Then, Parks said, the idea came to try and make an entire show out of the “Wall Clown,” and LEO was born.
He said that as the show grew in popularity, it became too much for one performer to manage, and Shulz joined the team in 2013.
Shulz said he enjoys performing around the world and is looking forward to coming to Idaho.
Shulz is a native of Berlin and graduated from the school of the performing arts, Die Etage, according to his bio with Y2D Productions.
Parks said that as LEO’s Creative Producer, he does not always get to go on tour with the performers but he will be coming to Rexburg.
“I’m going to be there with them at BYU-Idaho, and I’m very much looking forward to it,” he said.
Tickets are $8 for BYU-I students and $16 for the general public, according to BYU-I’s Master Calendar.
*Courtesy Photos by Andy Phillipson