Da Vinci curator presents multimedia show

Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti are coming to town.

Well, not exactly. But da Vinci and Michelangelo expert Mark Rodgers of Genius Productions Foundation will bring his interactive multimedia performance lecture to the Salida SteamPlant at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9.

In Rodgers’ Salida debut, the audience will be treated to a uniquely intimate venue. Rodgers frequently presents in front of sellout crowds at theaters with 1,000 seats, prompting him to describe the upcoming Salida performance as “MTV unplugged  up close and personal.”

Rodgers created the interactive show after visitors to the Da Vinci Machines Exhibition at Denver’s 16th Street Mall began to request him – the exhibit’s curator – as the docent for repeat tours due to his presentation style. (The interactive, handcrafted machines at the exhibit were built in Florence, Italy, using da Vinci’s 500-year-old designs.)

Rodgers saw an opportunity to take his docent talks to the next level, so he combined both of the Renaissance geniuses into the tours and highlighted their competitiveness. “They hated each other; they were total opposites. The more I found out, the more I wanted to know and the more interesting it became.” As the crowds continued to grow, Rodgers considered the option of taking the show on the road, offering a multimedia presentation that didn’t require transporting two tractor-trailers full of displays.

“My first performance was in the dome at The South Florida Museum; it sold out in 10 minutes. Da Vinci and Michelangelo have a draw that people are hungry for. Their back story is fascinating, and it still applies to us today.” Today, the show has evolved into a performance that Rodgers wraps up by zeroing in on modern-day geniuses, including such musical brainiacs as Les Paul, Van Cliburn and Paul McCartney. “The whole theme of our show is to discover the da Vinci new,” Rodgers explained.

Neither da Vinci nor Michelangelo had an easy life, Rodgers observed. In their day, they were each greatly disliked by some people and loved by others. “Their stories are just so incredible.”

Rodgers’ connection to the da Vinci exhibit began in 2011. “We were trying to bring a Ferris wheel attraction to downtown St. Louis, Mo. We couldn’t get the money to do it. At the time I was talking to a guy in Vegas about it, and he told me about the exhibition. He suggested that I bring it to the U.S.”

The da Vinci exhibit arrived “sight unseen.” Two tractor trailers showed up, and he and his brother began to unload boxes housing 2-by-2-foot stands and cases. “We had no idea what was in the boxes when we opened the truck. When we unwrapped them, we still had no idea,” he laughed. “But when we began to learn more and understand what we were dealing with, it was life-changing.”

Rodgers is the only presenter for the two-hour show geared toward middle-level students and up. It includes movies, 3D-animations of machines and inventions, images of codices, artwork, paintings, sculptures and a 15-minute intermission. “We tell grandparents to come and bring their grandkids; young and old will be interested in what these guys did. The Salida SteamPlant is co-producing the event with us. They’ve been very gracious. We could not be more happy.”

More information is available at DiscoverDaVinci.com. Tickets for Da Vinci & Michelangelo: The Titans Experience cost $17 in advance or $19 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at the SteamPlant box office or online at SalidaSteamPlant.com.