The Portal is an immersive multimedia live show that takes the audience on a modern mythological journey.
At the opening of the show, the frontman invites the audience to follow him into The Portal as it slowly opens behind him on the video. There, we encounter our “everyman”, Dante who is struggling with his sense of identity and purpose while also being rejected by his once fiancee. During his waking and sleeping dreams, he comes into contact with the mysterious and beatific Beatrice, who eventually lures him to come to the desert in a quest to rediscover himself.
But on his first night out, he summits a cliff and looks behind him to see three different characters, who, he realizes later, are archetypes of his own troubled mind – representing power, identity and death/transformation. At first Dante attempts to escape from them, running through the desert at midnight. But with some inspiration from Beatrice, he soon realizes that he must turn and confront each of these characters and overcome the power they have over him.
Towards the end of the show Dante ascends into the mountains for his fleeting and mysterious and transformative encounter with Beatrice. As Dante goes from one of these archetypes to another, he travels deeper into The Portal, on waves of animated fractals inspired with symbols and vocals and poetry that guide him onward. At the end, The Portal closes, ending the show.
While this plot happens on the video, the live musicians and dancers serve as the guides into Portal for the audience – as though they are inviting the audience to more deeply experience Dante’s journey as their own, as something more live, present and sensual.
To achieve its artistic and experiential goals, The Portal uses many different mediums to immerse the audience on this journey – ranging from music, cinema, fractals, lighting, poetry, dance, and performance. However, these mediums are not used chaotically but rather coherently to tell the story, and also synchronized and layered together, using variety of techniques so that they feel like they are one medium acting in unison, as though the whole set is dancing in unison.
Sources of Inspiration
In creating The Portal, the director borrowed from several structuring devices found throughout human history: The Shamanic Journey, The Hero’s Journey and The Vision Quest—all of which share some similarities. In each of these structures, someone leaves the comforts and familiarity of their community, ventures forth into unknown psychological or geographic territory, confronts their fears and emerges from his experience with a sense of transformation and empowerment. More specifically, The Portal was structured around the concept of The Shamanic Journey as outlined by Mircea Eliade’s (deceased professor from the U. of Chicago) “Shamanism: Techniques of Ecstasy,” which was a scholarly approach to the subject.
While The Portal may seem totally novel in its approach, it is nonetheless rooted in ancient and universal experiential and narrative structuers that have been used repeatedly over time in many different ways, from popular movies to ancient rites. The Portal was also inspired by many other divergent forces from Joseph Campbell, to Carl Jung’s, to various world mythologies and rituals, as well as Pink Floyd, EDM, raves and Burning Man.
The Portal’s soundtrack and album was composed by both Tierro Lee (formerly of the band Kan’Nal) and Luke Comer. Some of the songs were based on Tierro’s original compositions that were then adapted to the show; some of the songs are collaborations between the two. Some of the lyrics were written by Daniel Katsuk, from the band Katsuk. However, two of the songs were licensed: Spacechild, from the band, Kan’Nal, and Spaceweaver, from Lisa Gerrard.
Upon bringing the show to NYC, Luke Comer hired Charles Newman and David “Sisco” Siskovic to upgrade the songs for the album alone for release into the music scene in November of 2016.
Songs: Space Child; Holy Fractal; Space Weaver; Reaper; Trance; Syth; Midnight; Nature Is The Face; Fire; Voyage; Cyclops; Eclipse
In its original incarnation, The Portal was produced locally in Boulder, CO. The cinematic portion of the show was shot around Moab, Utah and Boulder, Colorado. Chris Kelly starred as Dante and Zarah Mahler starred as Beatrice. The fractals were originally designed by Jonathan Wolfe of the Fractal Foundation. Jared Caruso and Chris Pearce, both professors at various local art and video universities, handled most of the video editing, compositing and animation.
The Portal was originally released low-budget and “underground,” in 2011, in small theaters mostly in Colorado and California, to ecstatic praise from its fans. In October of 2015, The Portal was artistically overhauled and released for twelve shows in the RiNo Art District of Denver, where it was welcomed again with ecstatic praise from its fans and complimentary reviews from the press, with the final shows selling out. For its release in NYC in 2016, The Portal is undergoing further artistic enhancements–and is welcoming another level of both administrative and artistic talent to the show.
In NYC, The Portal is joined by Jill Bowman (General Manager), Grace Starr (Associate Producer/Marketing Director), Paul Stancato (Associate Director), Jessica Chen (Choreographer), David Gibbs (Publicist), Amanda Bohan (Advertising), Krista Robbins (Company Manager), Liene Dobraja (Costume Designer), Peter Feuchtwanger (Production Supervisor), Gregg Bellon (Production Stage Manager), Peter Fitzgerald (Sound Engineer), Traci Klainer Polimeni (Lighting Designer), and many other talented professionals. It’s cast will include Billy Lewis Jr. (Frontman), Joey Calveri (Frontman), Gilly Gonzalez (Drummer), Jessica Aronoff (Lead Dancer), Marija Abney (Dancer), and Nicole Spencer (Dancer).
The Portal will open in New York City at the Minetta Lane Theatre this November 2016 with incredibly exciting changes to its cast, choreography, stage and lighting design, music soundtrack, and costumes.
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Luke Comer is the author of the novel, “Yoke of Wind,” about a slave revolt on an island off the coast of Florida; the creative director and executive producer of the rock opera, “The Portal”; the executive producer of the music and transformational festival, “Arise”; and the executive producer and creative director of the small, experimental trance-dance called “Ride the Dragon”; and the author and executive producer of the upcoming project, one decade in development, called “The First Supper,” about the relationship between human biological and cultural evolution and nutrition.
While working in different mediums, he nonetheless uses many of the same artistic and intellectual techniques and motifs in all of his work. Through his exploration of human biological and cultural evolution, he attempts to identify the fundamental needs of humanity that are not met in modern society–and then devise ways to fulfill those needs. He owns, produces, publishes and controls all of his own work but loves to collaborate with others.
For more info, visit Luke’s website.
Tierro Lee is a musician, composer, producer and audio engineer. He has over 20 years of experience with a long list of production and performance credits. His work includes Hollywood hit movies (Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp), Indie feature films (The Portal, At the Edge of the World), and TV commercials. His background includes Rock, Jazz, Healing, Pop, Electronica, and more. He is also the co-founder and co-producer of the Arise Music Festival. Tierro wrote and co-produced most of The Portal’s songs.
For more info, visit Tierro’s website.
Kan’Nal is a rock music band first formed in Guatemala in 2001 and has for most of their touring career operated from areas around Boulder, CO. The band originally was composed of lead singer and songwriter Tzol and guitarist Tierro, later adding bassist Rodolfo Escobar, performance artist and backing vocalist Teresita Hinojosa, drummer Gilly Gonzalez, didgeridoo player Aaron Jerad, and dancer Akayate. The band describes itself as “an authentic Rock & Roll band” playing “Tribal Psychedelic Rock.”
For more info, visit Kan’Nal’s website.
Lisa Gerrard (born April 12, 1961) is an Australian musician, singer, and composer who rose to prominence as part of the music group Dead Can Dance with former music partner Brendan Perry.
Since her career began in 1981, she has been involved in a wide range of projects. Gerrard received a Golden Globe Award for the music score to the film Gladiator, on which she collaborated with Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt. In addition to singing, she is an instrumentalist for much of her work, most prolifically using the yangqin (a Chinese hammered dulcimer).
For more info, visit Lisa’s website.
Daniel Katsük is a music therapist, songwriter, author, producer, actor, Kundalini Yoga instructor, graphic designer, music teacher and all around creative MacGyver, currently based out of Fort Worth, Texas. Picking up the guitar at thirteen, songs came quickly. Over four hundred songs later, ten published albums, national tours, movie and television credits, Daniel has put a hand into almost every creative outlet imaginable. After running off to join the gypsy rock circus known as Spoonfed Tribe and touring with this wildly imaginative group for eight years, Daniel left to pursue his own music, forming a group called A-hummin’ Acoustical Acupuncture (AAA). Another expression to emerge from these enriching musical connections is a group called The Skin & Bones Drum Cult, an improvisational drum collective that is more live sonic theater, than band. During these times, Daniel’s music wound its way onto Cartoon Network and a voiceover career with FUNimation. When AAA disbanded, Daniel’s music moved into a new state of evolution, choosing simply the name KatsüK, which roughly translated in Seminole, means the “Center of God’s Heart/Creation.”
KatsüK has recently returned from a New Zealand tour and is beginning to make their mark within the international Conscious Music Festival circuit, as well, landing the lead vocal role in Denver’s The Portal Rock Opera. His groundbreaking new album, “Labyrinth”, an epic soundscape of world rock instrumentation and lyrical magnetism, was released summer 2016.
For more info, visit Katsuk’s website.
Broadway: The Wedding Singer (Asst. Choreo) Lion King (Res. Director)
National Tours: Flashdance (Dir/ Choreo), Jekyl & Hyde (Dir/ Choreo), The Wedding Singer (Dir)
International: House of Dancing Water (Artistic Director)
New York: Icon (NYMF)The Cobalteans (NYMF), Happy 50ish (Beckett Theater), Powerhouse (New Ohio), Einstein’s Dreams (NYFringe)
Performance credits include, Blue Man Group (Blue Man) and De La Guarda (original New York cast member/Captain).
He is currently developing a new musical for Broadway based on the life and times of 80’s art star, Jean Michel Basquiat as well as brand new spectacle show for Universal Studios Beijing, which will premier in 2020.
For more info, visit Paul’s website.
Jessica Chen is the Founder and Artistic Director of J Chen Project. She holds a B.A. in Global Studies from the University of California Santa Barbara and continued her dance training in NYC at The Ailey School and Early Mosley Institute of the Arts, where she received a full scholarship.
This year, she had the honor of choreographing and directing a Featured Float in the 2015 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In addition, she was featured in an article for both The Huffington Post and 2015 October Issue of Dance Magazine.
She has taught master classes, workshops and seminars at institutions such as Columbia University – Barnard College, Semester at Sea, Yale University, Boston University, Rosie’s Theater Kids (NYC), Do-One (Japan), Jazz DU Funk (China), Mt. Holyoke, and Orange County School of the Arts, as well as her alma mater.
Chen was honored as Keynote Speaker at Cornell University’s 2011 Celebration of Asian American Women for her work empowering female leadership within the community. She presented “If I Can Dance It, Then It’s Possible” at the 2014 TEDx organized by Semester at Sea. Chen’s choreography has been presented throughout NYC including NY Live Arts Studio Series, Brooklyn Museum of Art, HERE Arts Center, Dixon Place, Ailey Citigroup Theater, DUMBO Dance Festival and Ars Nova. International and National credits include 2010 World Expo USA Pavilion in Shanghai, China and the Amnesty International Arts Festival in Washington D.C.
For more info, visit Jessica’s website.
Billy Lewis Jr. is a New York City based singer, songwriter, and actor.
He has been featured in The Who’s Tommy, Spring Awakening and Hedwig & the Angry Inch, as well as the national touring companies of Hair, Spring Awakening and We Will Rock You.
In 2014 Billy released his debut EP of original music. All songs are currently available on Tunes. In 2015 Billy joined the cast of GLEE as “Mason McCarthy” for the sixth and final season of the popular series. Currently Billy is writing new music with plans to release a record in 2017.
For more info, visit Billy’s website.
Jessica earned her BFA in Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has been a company member of J Chen Project, Eryc Taylor Dance, AMS Project, and Naganuma. Jessica has performed works by Gus Solomons Jr., Deborah Jowitt, Keigwin + Company, David Dorfman Dance, Patricia Hoffbauer, Brian Thomas, Rachelle Rak, JT Horenstein, Adam Cates, and Derek Mitchell. She has performed at Danspace at St. Marks Church, Alvin Ailey, Symphony Space, Peridance Capezio Center, La Mama, The Skirball Center, Dixon Place and Lincoln Center for NYC Fashion Week. Jessica has had the honor to dance back-up for Paula Abdul and perform at a TED Talks TEDx event. Jessica is currently represented by McDonald Selznick Associates Agency and is so excited to be a part of The Portal!
Marija Juliette Abney received her BFA from The Ailey School/Fordham University, her MA from NYU TISCH in performance studies and is an alumni of The William Esper Studio’s Two Year Meisner Training Program. Her theater credits include: Broadway’s After Midnight, The Lion King, In Your Arms, Amazing Grace (Chicago), and New York City Opera’s final production Anna Nicole. Film/Television credits include: the TONY Awards, FOX Searchlight’s Black Nativity, Dancing with The Stars, the Latin Grammy Awards, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and the Daytime Emmy Awards. She is also a member of the Refried Collective, a group of socially conscious artists whose work addresses inequities in America.
Nicole earned her BFA in Dance from Florida State University. After graduating, she traveled to 44 countries around the world as a principal dancer with Princess Cruises. She then moved to NYC, and became the original Dance Captain on the National Tour of Dirty Dancing. Nicole had the honor to dance for Andrea Bocelli in concert at the Dolby Theater in LA and perform on Saturday Night Live. Currently living in NYC, she is represented by Clear Talent Group and is a fitness professional with Physique57 and Cyc Fitness. Nicole sends all her love to her Mom, Dad, and Chris!
Joey Calveri was recently seen in Trip Of Love as Peter. Broadway: seen as Stacee Jaxx in Rock Of Ages, Wonderland (Knight). Other credits include We Will Rock You – Las Vegas (Galileo). US and European tours: Saturday Night Fever (Tony Manero/Double J), West Side Story (Action), Grease-Das Musical (Kenickie). Regional: Hair (Berger), Assassins (Balladeer). He has also written the immersive rock show For Madmen Only and is also a painter with a display at Hourglass Tavern on Restaurant Row. Check out his original rock band Machine Elves and their two albums ” Fancy Suits and Cigarettes” and ” The Unbelievable Destruction of the Ego Maniac”. Joey was voted Best Male Rock Vocalist of 2014 by Sunset Island Magazine.
As a young rock musician, Gilly matched up with Texas legend Bob Dog Catlin, who introduced him to northern classical indian music and world fusion. In 2003, Gilly joined Colorado tribal rock band Kan’Nal. Following the dissolution of Kan’Nal in 2008, Gilly continued playing with Rodolfo Escobar and Teresita Hinojosa, in Lunar Fire. Around the same time in 2010, capturing the more hip hop side of things, the band INTI was created and released 2 albums with vocalist Precious Hill. Wanting to bring back the world drum fusion elements, in 2009 Lil Sumn’ Sumn’ was created with his wife, Lisa.
Christopher Soren Kelly is an actor, writer, and director living in Los Angeles. He moved to LA shortly after starring as John in the critically acclaimed film, “INK”. His performance was called “multi-layered”, “above and beyond”, “sensational” and “stellar” from such publications as Ain’t It Cool News and The LA Weekly among many others. Christopher has starred in literally dozens of smaller independent films honing his skill with a wide variety of characters. He wrote, directed and starred in Chasseur, a short film about a Cajun Devil hunter who meets the Devil’s lawyer. Christopher has also performed on stage in such productions as Measure for Measure, Dangerous Liaisons, Baltimore Waltz and Machinal, among others.
Christopher recently directed and edited the short “I’m Right Here”, for which he won Best Editing at HollyShorts and the short film Monkeys,which won the Grand Jury Prize at Dances with Films. He is currently in pre-production on the feature film The Tangle. Christopher received a PhD from the University of Colorado and taught at several major universities including the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland, College Park before devoting himself fully to his film career. He will appear in the upcoming feature films The Frame and Somnio.
For more info, visit Chris’ website.
Zarah Mahler is a Los Angeles born stage, screen, and film actress and recording artist. She recently made her Broadway debut starring as Ruth in Soul Doctor (Circle in the Square Theatre, NYC). Other theatre credits include Appropriate (Mark Taper Forum/River), Wicked (2nd national tour/Nessarose), Cabaret (Drury Lane Chicago/Sally), Neil Patrick Harris’ Rent (Hollywood Bowl) and Stupid Fucking Bird (Boston Court Performing Arts Center/Nina). Zarah has a recurring role on TNT’s hit drama Major Crimes as Emily Raydor. Other film/TV credits include Ghost Whisperer, Salt Water and the upcoming feature Beyond Skyline. As a recording artist, Ms. Mahler’s debut album “Skin” is set for release Fall of 2015.
For more info, visit Zarah’s website.
Gregg Bellon is a multi-disciplined theater artist and Founder of Production Consolidated, a full-service production company based in NYC. Credits: Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure (US/UK 2007-Present); Good Person of Szechwan (Public Theatre/Foundry Theatre); John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown (US/SA National Tour 2012-13); Henson Alternative’s Puppet UP Uncensored (NYC/National Tour, 2010-14).
Peter R. Feuchtwanger for PRF PRODUCTIONS (Production Supervision/Scenic Design Consultant) Broadway: Bill Maher: Victory Begins at Home. For The New Group, over 50 productions between 2000 & 2016, from What the Butler Saw to Buried Child. 35 Shows for Primary Stages include: Bronx Bombers and Dividing the Estate. Other production and design credits can be seen at IBDB.com.
David Goldstein Previous Off-Broadway: That Golden Girls Show, Stalking the Bogeyman, Very Hungry Caterpillar, I Know What Boys Want, Soul Doctor. Los Angeles: A Christmas Memory, Around the World in 80 Days, Elevator, Playground, Rocky Horror, Boomermania, Its Top Secret! Regional: Des Moines Playhouse, NCStage Company, WVPublic Theatre, Allenberry Playhouse. RLYcore4. www.davidgoldsteindesigns.com
Liene Dobraja is a Latvian-born costume designer for theatre and film. She has worked in Germany, Russia, and the Baltic States, and now works and resides in New York. Trained as a Fine Artist and a graduate of the prestigious Academy of the Arts in Riga, Latvia, Liene has found her place in costume design, and has been designing for theater, opera, film and advertising since 2008. She holds and MFA from NYU in Costume Design for stage and film.
For more info, visit Liene’s website.
Traci Klainer Polimeni NY credits include: Women Without Men (Mint Theater); The Asphalt Kiss (Drama Desk nomination); Four (Lucille Lortel nomination); One Ride (Queens Theatre in the Park); Now Circa Then, Core Values, 2 Girls For 5 Bucks (Ars Nova); The Irish Curse (Soho Playhouse). Traci is also Executive Director of Luce that specializes in exhibit, themed entertainment and architectural lighting design.
Peter Fitzgerald Recent Designs, China Doll, Clinton the Musical, Trip of Love, Penn & Teller in New York. Mr. Fitzgerald designed the sound for: All the Way, Old Jews Telling Jokes, New York Philharmonic’s productions of Sweeney Todd and Carousel, Will Farrell’s Your Welcome America, Billy Joel’s Movin’ Out, Gypsy; Paul Simon’s The Capeman, The Will Rogers Follies, to name a few.
Wojcik | Seay Casting is Scott Wojcik and Gayle Seay. With Holly Buczek they cast theater, commercials, television and film. Tours: Motown, Vocalosity, Flashdance, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Jekyll & Hyde, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oklahoma!, A Chorus Line. Off-Broadway: Othello: The Remix, The Two Character Play, Triassic Parq, Handle With Care, 666, and more. CNN’s “The Hunt.”
Grace Starr has been with The Portal since the beginning of 2015. She held many roles in The Portal’s successful month of shows in Denver Oct 2015, including director of marketing. She is extremely invested in and passionate about The Portal, and is honored to be a part of taking the show to NYC.
Grace is a marketing professional, branding designer, event producer, and social marketing strategy expert. Over recent years, she has primarily worked in the music, film, and festival industries, including having worked on the core teams of the Arise Music Festival, Wanderlust, and Unity Concert. She is an artist and musician, as well as a published photographer and writer. A conscious entrepreneur, she has founded several companies, backed many philanthropic projects, worked with a profound array of amazing professionals, and participated in social movements around the world.
Press Rep David Gibbs is the founder of DARR Publicity, a boutique press agency specializing in theater publicity, dance, music-driven and variety shows. David’s clients include The Amoralists, Blessed Unrest, Company XIV, Ice Factory Festival, La MaMa, The Mad Ones, New Ohio Theatre, PTP/NYC and The Queen’s Company. David has publicized shows at Minetta Lane Theatre, Rattlestick, Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Atlantic Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Theatre Row, New World Stages, The Flea, Walkerspace, Soho Playhouse, Town Hall, Cherry Lane and HERE. His clients have won Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards. For more info, visit DARR’s website.
Mogul Productions is the management division of Theater Mogul, an international producing organization, currently presenting, managing and licensing worldwide productions of Defending the Caveman, SILENCE! The Musical, One Funny Mother, Triple Espresso, Revolution in the Elbow …, Cavewoman & CaveQueen to name a few. Theater Mogul North America is based in New York City and spearheaded by Jill Bowman who has managed on and off Broadway for over two decades.
Charles Newman is a music producer and runs Mother West, a Brooklyn- based boutique music production, licensing, publishing and artist management company specializing in licensing for film and television, publicity, promotions and distribution. With an impressive roster of artists and composers under it’s belt, Mother West works in various capacities with The Magnetic Fields, The Bones of J.R Jones, Pepping, Jon DeRosa, Mother Feather, Aloud and Motopony. Mother West and Newman were brought on by The Portal to supply the music production and promotion around the Portal Soundtrack to support and promote it’s NYC theatrical premiere.
For more info, visit MotherWest’s website.
David Sisko is a New York City based Music Producer. He has remixed best-selling artists, released electronic & experimental records and has co-written & produced numerous songs on major, indie & self-released labels. His original songs, compositions, sound design and production/engineering skills have appeared in feature films, documentaries, television programs, commercials and video games across the globe. He is one-half of the songwriting/recording artist Disco Pusher and works out of his Min Max Studios in Midtown Manhattan. He holds a Masters of Music Technology degree from New York University with a focus on Artificial Intelligence, Voice Recognition & the Tonemeister Recording curriculum.
For more info, visit Sisko’s website.