Rock, paper, scissors mixed with Japanese music, drums, dance and martial arts created excitement last Friday night at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha. Tao: Phoenix Rising overwhelmingly delighted the audiences of all ages.
Tao began engaging the audience early on before the show while playing "Rock, Paper, Scissors" with many of the children and adults creating laughter on the main floor while also settling the audience into their seats for the show to begin on time.
The show opened with a cloth nature scene in various shades of green and performers adding to the nature sounds with flute and drum music creating a gorgeous introduction to the night's performance. Peacefulness in harmony with nature established the standard for the evening.
Tao displayed the perfect balance between musicianship and athleticism. With an assortment of elaborate costumes, a variety of drums, harps, sticks, cymbals, and stringed instruments blending the visual with the melodic, harmonious, and percussive tunes each selection varied in tempo and style from the previous. Numerous selections were delightful to hear the assortment of tones and tunes along side the excitement and energy of the visual scene.
One of the selections involved three performers playing small cymbals with the three playing catch with an invisible object and often changing to a game of keep away. Their unique awareness of the visual and the musical performance created picturesque and memorable experiences for the audience.
Another of the selections involved lanterns while drumming. In contrast a later scene involved lights creating huge circles in darkness.
Athletically, everyone in the audience was impressed with the athleticism of the male performers who were on their back drumming. They needed to do crunches while performing and holding the large drums between their legs with their toes balancing themselves in a partial sit-up in order to play the drums.
The shamisen, a banjo-like three-stringed lute was frequently used throughout the show in a variety of styles from hard rock to dueling banjos. The flutes were mesmerizing throughout their various songs. Another noticeable instrument was the plucked strings on the harps which created beautiful melodies.
Tao: Phoenix Rising was fun family entertainment while also experiencing the musical traditions of old Japan. This is a show that the audience did not want to end and the performers continued in their various roles exhibiting a wide range of talents and skills to the delight of everyone.