Aquatique shows could make quite a splash at Inner Harbor

THIS JUST IN . . .

August 22, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

When someone tried to describe it to me, I didn't understand, couldn't appreciate the concept. Water movie? Water music? Aquatique? Aquatech? So I went to the tape, a five-minute demo video. Now I understand. Mind you, I'm no Michael Eisner, but the watery New Age "entertain-tech" of Aquatique looks extremely interesting and even promising. Will it work in the Inner Harbor? And more, will it work as a permanent display, something folks will spend money to see on a regular basis?

Michel Ferber, senior vice president of Aquatique USA, thinks so. The company and city officials have been discussing the possibility of Aquatique assuming a permanent place among Inner Harbor attractions. "We think the Baltimore harbor is ideal," Ferber said the other day, just before leaving for Hawaii, where his company is developing an outdoor entertainment system for the harbor at Honolulu.

Sounds strange? It's supposed to. That's part of the appeal.

Imagine a massive drive-in movie, 60 feet tall and 100 feet wide, rising out of the water and being zapped with laser beams and crowned in fireworks. Imagine giant sea serpents battling Neptune in front of the World Trade Center. Or imagine the air over Pier Six filled with flying monsters, galleons, firestorms, mermaids and other mythical creatures, all kind of holographic and 3-D-ish. (Get the idea? No? Well, then, you'll just have to get the video.)

The Aquatique technology, developed in Europe, uses pumps with off-the-charts power to create a huge curtain of water, which becomes the screen on which 70mm film is rear-projected. Combined with music and pyrotechnics, it supposedly makes for a night of "oohs" and "aahs." It's all coming to a harbor near you -- and soon, hopes Ferber and Gordon Becker, the principal owner of Aquatique USA.

Becker, president and founder of the Becker Group, the Baltimore-based shopping center display company that has decked the malls of America for 40 Christmases, is trying to introduce this entertainment technology to the United States. Over Memorial Day weekend, Aquatique shows went up at Sea Worlds in Florida, Texas and Ohio. Disneyland has been targeted for the technology.

In Europe, there have been Aquatique shows at Euro Disney and at Seville Expo 92. Presented to audiences in theater-style seating, the shows are seen daily in Miyazaki, Japan, and, during the summer, at Puy du Fou, France.

Now, Aquatique wants to produce a show specifically for this market. I hope Baltimore gives it a try. (How about a John Waters film festival on water screen? Imagine a 60-foot Divine soaring over the Inner Harbor and climbing the World Trade Center and maybe wrestling with a giant crab. That's entertainment.)

Hollins Hall reunion

Could I have your attention, please? I have a couple of announcements.

If you grew up in West Baltimore, around Hollins Hall or Hollins Market, if you or your kin worked for the B&O, give Howard Meyers a call at 485-8943. He's looking for people from the old neighborhood. He and some buddies started a Hollins Hall-Mount Clare Association. "We started out about 15 months ago with five guys getting together for lunch," Howard says. "There are about 96 of us now." And they're having a reunion in September.

Also:

Will the guy who operates the Brutally Handsome Stump Removal Co. please give me a call on 332-6166? I know a woman who thinks you're cute -- she got your company's name off the side of your truck, but missed the phone number -- and wants to meet you. And listen, fella, I get the impression she's not looking to clear land for soybean.

'Thunderbirds' not new

Eleanor M. Coker, a British expatriate living in Owings Mills, couldn't help but notice that "Thunderbirds," the strange-looking marionette adventure series (Channel 45, Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.), has been billed as the summer's hottest "new" TV show for kids. She says "Thunderbirds" first flew across TV screens in Britain in the '60s. "I grew up with 'Thunderbirds,' " Eleanor notes. "It was revived a few years ago in Britain and was a phenomenal success." She's correct. The show is still broadcast weekly on BBC Television. And those square-jawed and bushy-browed puppets and the wobbly spacecraft they zoom around in might be familiar to some Americans, too. Apparently, "Thunderbirds" aired in certain U.S. markets in the '60s as well. I remember a similar show, also in supermarionation, called "Super Car."

Some Bentley purchases

Purchases listed under "expenditures" on Republican gubernatorial candidate Helen Delich Bentley's latest campaign report:

Caldor, three cameras, $626.79.

Burglar alarm, York Road headquarters, $975.

Reimbursement to campaign worker for candy for parade, $316.

Caldor, dehumidifier, $199.49.

Fax machine, $3,250.

Aromas that don't mix

Our pal Ingmar Burger wonders: "Who was the genius who decided to locate the Burger King adjacent to the Cinnabon inside the Baltimore-Washington Airport? Both emit mouth-watering aromas. But when the scent of deep-fried onion rings mingles with cinnamon, the result is kind of disgusting. Anyone who says he can walk by the place without gagging is telling a whopper."

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