Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009

Nicola Tesla at Discovery World

By Russ Bickerstaff
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A pleasant trip to Discovery World this past February 14th found my wife and I attending a live show about Nicola Tesla. Evidently, the show has been running for several months and I’ve been too busy to notice.

Tesla Lives! covers some of the basic fundamentals of electricity, giving somewhat equal time to its principles and the history of scientist/inventor Nicola Tesla—the guy who first developed alternating current.

Longtime local actor Andy North guides audiences through a somewhat seamless, fast-paced 90 minutes. North has a natural charisma that keeps everything moving along quite well. The show features a great deal of interaction between North an the audience and thankfully, North is a quick wit and quite adept at negotiating his way through moments of audience interaction.

What really impressed me was how much engineering-types seemed to enjoy the show. Prior to the show, I overheard a conversation between a couple of people who seemed to know a lot more about Tesla than could have possibly been covered in a 90 minute presentation. North had no problem entertaining people who essentially knew everything that he was presenting. His performance was as entertaining for them as it was for those of us somewhat less knowledgeable about the subject matter. It’s a rare performer who can do all that AND put on an interesting educational show for al the kids in the audience. North pulls it all off quite effortlessly. He may not be able to capture the wild energy that Tesla would’ve commanded at the world’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, but North puts on an impressive show. In a re-creation of a popular photograph, North its in a Faraday cage while bolts of electricity crackle abut between two coils. Science should come to the theatre more often.    

Tesla Lives! has no closing date. Saturday and Sunday performances continue through the end of February. So far the only show date mentioned for March is the 13th. All performances are at Discovery World’s Innovation Theatre.

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