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The Orion Experience

This irresistible glam-rock space opera extravaganza will keep you dancing all night.

Ashley Perez (Center) with Linda Horwatt, Orion Simprini, and Reef Rox in The Orion Experience.
(© Alexander Kusak)

You don't want to miss The Orion Experience at XL Nightclub. Conceived and directed by Travis Greisler, this high-energy immersive glam-rock show is the perfect way to start a night out on the town. It's like Here Lies Love or Fuerza Bruta, but with robots and space aliens instead of Filipina dictators or sexually ambiguous Argentineans.

The Orion Experience (the titular NYC-based pop band) emerges from the darkness of the stage to the strains of "Children of the Stars." Led by the hirsute Captain Orion (Orion Simprini) and his robotic first mate, Lindatron (Linda Horwatt), The Orion Experience takes its audience on a journey through the stars, a crash landing in the garden of earthly delights, and a jubilant homecoming. The band is backed up by a phalanx of attractive and muscular dancer-aerialists in body glitter and galactic leotards. Along the way, Orion encounters the Queen of White Lies (Sir Honey Davenport), whose sinister magic will make you feel "hot and sexy."

It's all incredibly silly and presented without commentary, which proves to be a wise choice. This isn't a self-aware send-up of the glam-rock space-opera form (think Flash Gordon), but a massive bear hug to the genre. Dancers robot-walk across the floor, aerialists perform amazing feats of acrobatics, and the Queen of White Lies shoots laser beams out of her press-on nails. Everybody gets down. The band performs some of their biggest hits including "Obsessed With You" and "Love Saves the Day." Resistance is futile in the face of such infectious joy.

More than anything, this is a fist-pumping rock-concert experience with only the thinnest veneer of a plot. The audience remains standing throughout the 75-minute show, moving around as performances materialize on every inch of the floor. Reef Rox has expertly engineered the sound so that each lyric and note is perfectly audible. With the aid of wireless technology, the band wanders through the crowd, having close encounters with the audience in a way that few live musicians do.

Jason Ardizzone-West's set of movable and interlocking platforms adds to this experience. The musicians seamlessly glide through the crowds while rocking out, occasionally bringing fans along for the ride. Andrea Hood's costumes are stunning. Simprini looks like an interstellar Bay City Roller with his wide-open collar and luxurious flowing hair.

Everyone seems genuinely happy to be at this show, the performers most of all. They give 100 percent, as evidenced by the copious perspiration accumulating on their brows. Pity the poor wardrobe assistant tasked with laundering the wigs, but don't let your guilt stop you from buying a ticket.