Liam Neeson to Make "3D Hologram" Appearance in Touring Arena Stage Version of The War of the Worlds

Playbill.com reports that the long-running touring arena stage musical version of HG Wells’ The War of the Worlds is to tour again, beginning performances at Liverpool’s Echo Arena Dec. 1, 2012, then playing one-night stands in Cardiff, Nottingham, London’s Wembley Arena, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, Bournemouth, London’s 02 Arena and Brighton. In this new, revised incarnation of the show, Liam Neeson will newly appear as George Herbert, the journalist.

He replaces Richard Burton, whose holographic head has appeared in the show since 2006; he provided the original narration to Jeff Wayne’s 1978 album that the stage version is based on.

Neeson will be seen in three ways: appearing as the first full body hologram seen on stage interacting with live actors, as an 11-foot high holographic head and shoulders hovering above the stage, and appearing within the two-hour CGI film projected onto a 100 foot wide “animation wall.”

In a press statement, Wayne commented on the new incarnation of the show, “After long consideration, I concluded that for future productions, some of HG Wells’ storylines and characters should be re-explored. It would also give me the chance to re-interpret my compositions with the production techniques of today, exciting from a musician’s point of view. But perhaps the greatest opportunity was revisiting the main character of George Herbert, The Journalist who ‘threads’ the story together. And while it may have been the greatest opportunity, it was also the hardest decision to make because I knew that with a re-developed storyline, a new Journalist would need to be sought as Richard Burton’s original performance, was finite. And whoever that person might turn out to be, he would have to be of no less stature and quality of voice than that of Richard – an incredibly tough act to follow. But once again I have been fortunate, and have attracted Liam Neeson to these New Generation productions. He has, so-to-speak, been handed the ‘baton’ from Richard Burton, and I believe audiences and listeners alike will find Liam’s interpretation no less compelling.”

Wayne will himself conduct the Black Smoke Band and ULLAdubULLA Strings with musical guest artists to be announced for a new album being produced of the score and tour.

For further details, visit www.thewaroftheworlds.com.

COMMENT: As SchubinCafe.com reader John Huffington points out:

The War of the Worlds tour you posted on your blog looks cool, but it’s just another unfortunate example of “hologram” hyperbole generated by Musion for their “Eyeliner” product:
http://www.eyeliner3d.com/

Eyeliner is simply an updated version of the classic “Peppers Ghost” effect; Musion use a thin film instead of a heavy glass mirror, and a video projector instead of an actor or actual scene.  Otherwise, it’s the same old effect, detailed so well in Jim Steinmeyer’s great book, “Hiding the Elephant”:
http://www.jimsteinmeyer.com/catalog/product.php?productid=17525
(Even if you’re not into magic history this is a great read.)

Peppers Ghost effects are really cool, but they are not even 3D.  They only work from a specific, fixed viewpoint from the front.  It works great in a proscenium theatre, but if you get too far off axis the whole thing falls apart.

The chronic mis-use of the word hologram inspired me to write this blog post back in 2008, referencing some work I did in the 80’s when I worked for Bran Ferren:
http://www.controlgeek.net/blog/2008/11/6/its-not-a-fcking-hologram.html

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