Perhaps the idea is that in studying the mistakes and accomplishments of world leaders and warring peoples of the past, global harmony will naturally ensue. (Maybe next millennium.)
But (in true Joan Rivers fashion) forget the Visigoths -- what was everyone wearing? Looking back at social trends may yield fewer answers to nagging questions concerning the state of humankind, but it's certainly easier to set the backdrop with catchy, toe-tappin' tunes. So if you are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next set of decade-themed stamps at the post office, or if your VCR was set to record miniseries like The '70s, Science City has a show for you.
PopMania combines panoramic video, full-dome laser, 3-D graphics, and Surround Sound to immerse viewers in the world of 20th century fads and fashions.
Clearly, the story, if there is one, is told from a 21st century vantage point -- with a bombardment of visual stimuli on all sides, reminiscent of U2's Zoo TV tour. The phrase "Stop the world, I want to get off" is branded across the screen in neon letters, presenting images of the chaotic times that have shaped the world and foreshadowing the sense of disarray the audience may experience in reliving it. Then, as if audience members were logging onto various Web sites by way of a computer crossword game, they access a history of pop culture divided into categories: food, dance, cars, fashion, and toys.
Through video footage and computer-generated images, viewers take a nostalgic (for those who lived it) or educational (for those who didn't) tour. Also, mixed in with hula hoops, the Charleston dance craze, and commercials of Swanson's TV dinners are reminders of fads still present -- like Pokémon and the Macarena (yes, the Macarena is still alive and kicking in dance clubs across Kansas City). Punctuating these images is a soundtrack of songs that reflect a particular era by simply lending a lyrical description from such songs as Gary Numan's "Cars" or Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'."
All of this takes place in a sparing 24 minutes -- undoubtedly ideal for those who can't stomach four hours of a miniseries that highlights an entire decade. While PopMania may not be a must-see, it is an enjoyable way to spend a half-hour.
PopMania is playing daily in the Arvin Gottlieb City Dome at Science City, 30 W. Pershing Rd. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children. For more information on this "fad-tastic" show, call 816-460-2222.