It is fitting that Charlie Ocean Goldblum was born on Independence Day of this year. Not only is baby Charlie the first child of legendary Jeff Goldblum, but his birth date is a nod to one of his father’s most beloved movies. His aquatic middle name is also a deliciously bizarre choice that coincides with Goldblum: The Water Ballet and we’re wondering if it wasn’t a dedication to Baltimore’s own Fluid Movement.
It’s subtle references and downright signs like this that make up the entire production of Fluid Movement’s latest endeavor — a water ballet inspired by the man with the unusual laugh that’s been transcribed to sheet music. Produced by Barbara Wilgus and Justin Sabe, Goldblum: The Water Ballet is a whimsical journey that started with Wilgus’ obsession with the actor known for blockbusters The Fly and Jurassic Park as well as kooky flicks like Earth Girls Are Easy. Whether you’ve seen a few of Goldblum’s films or have them all memorized, Barbara Wilgus mused, “You are going to find something wonderful and magical in his fictional spiritual journey through water ballet.”
Fluid Movement is a Baltimore-based performance art group that has utilized unexpected mediums to bring their electrifying performances to life since 1999. Taking an “all the world’s a stage” approach and according to Kelly Quinn (performer and of the Fluid Movement public relations committee), “We are very committed to public pools and everyday urban spaces.”
When you go to a Fluid Movement show, you not only get to watch an artful performance for around ten dollars, but you also learn about a cool spot in Baltimore that you may not have otherwise checked out. This season’s performances took place at the Patterson Park and Druid Hill Park pools. It was the latter establishment where I got to experience Fluid Movement firsthand. It saddens me, that after having lived in Baltimore proper for over two years, I never took a dip in either of these locations. However, Fluid Movement has inspired me to seek out local pools and get my feet wet in all of them.
Getting the show off the ground and into the water, Barbara Wilgus opened the show with an anecdote about Jeff Goldblum’s tendency to play a rousing game of True or False when talking with a live audience. The twist is, that whatever facts Jeff spits out about his film career are always true. Wilgus, who played host of the show, used this factoid as an audience participation device that brought everyone together doubling over with laughter.
With six scenes centered around different synchronized swimming performances, audience member and Baltimore local, Kerrin Smith gave the show two thumbs up, “It was a total delight that squeezed in great Goldblum references while still managing to surprise the audience with hilarious choreography and timing. The amount of work they put into their costumes really made the show.”
Amid a sea of color-coordinated swim caps, there were also a variety of nose plugs and buggy goggles. This gave a Destiny’s Child vibe, as every scene had its own uniform, but to the comfort and creativity of each individual swimmer and performer. The diverse body types and age groups of the cast all shined in metallic suits and crafty experiments that survived the chlorinated waters night after night. For “The Flyz” scene, the cast buzzed about in dark leotards topped off with unmistakably gnat-like wings. Sequined-ball headbands represented “the ninety six tears in my ninety six eyes” according to the Cramps “Human Fly” that played as the scene’s soundtrack.
Every single person involved with the zany show took a bold chance to make it a glitter-bomb spectacle — and the results were astounding. Esther Williams, back from the dead and played marvelously by Ellen Jenkins, was our unlikely tour guide wearing HonFest-appropriate garb that complimented the ensemble perfectly. Her fantasy cape and bubble queen crown helped ensure that she held her own when standing next to the man of the hour, played by Isaac “close your eyes and I’m Goldblum” Hirsch. Hirsch’s impeccable impersonation was centered around his phrasing and nailing the Goldblum voice. Some people had to put their eyeglasses on to make sure it wasn’t really the man himself. When this proved to be too surreal to handle, there were gloriously outlandish props to keep the transcendental narrative afloat. A giant bottle of Nair? Check. Hula-hoops, devil horns, and a watermelon? Yup. A rigged umbrella dinosaur that shot water from its mouth? Mmhmm.
Another magic trick pulled from Fluid Movement’s hat: how fabulous everyone’s makeup looked and remained despite all of the splishing and splashing. Performer Dan Parsons of the “Party Sparkle Motion” scene admitted that everyone “had to work really hard not to rub [their] eyes.” Parsons’ had a silvery blue Ziggy Stardust-inspired lightning bolt covering one eye. It never smudged.
Performer Kate Dunn, with similar cosmic cosmetics, noted that the blue streak across her eye left a mean tint that lingered a few days afterward, “It kind of looks like I got punched in the face, especially when I try to hide it with sunglasses.” When asked if the handful of cast members who sported bruise-like lightning bolts had a name for their particular character, Dunn looked me dead in the eye and said: “We’re Jeff Goldblum. We’re all Jeff Goldblum and so are you.”