Do you still think of mimes as guys in whiteface? Get out of those bell-bottomed pants, shut off that disco music and pop a different tape in the VCR.
"VaudeVizual" and "Black Light Magic," shows for adults and kids respectively at Booth Playhouse, mash up black-light illusions, aerial performances, masks, vaudeville and comedy.
And like any successful wedding, Omimeo's 2011 projects offer something old and something new, something borrowed and something blue.
The something old (not to be unkind) would be Hardin Minor and Eddie Williams, who co-founded the company in 1978 and can still hop around the stage. ("We're thinking about a routine called Cirque du Senior," jokes Williams.)
The something new would be Booth Theater, where Omimeo will debut after decades at Children's Theatre of Charlotte. There was no bad blood, just a scheduling slip: Omimeo expects to be back with CTC in 2012, though Minor says, "We'd love to alternate (venues)."
Something borrowed? That's aerialist Karl Baumann, who has spent his long career with Cirque du Soleil and has worked with the Omimeans on corporate shows, though never on a mainstage production.
And something blue - well, that you'll have to see. Or not see, as it were. "VaudeVizual" has a "stripper" who doffs her garments in a black-light fan dance. But as her fans part for the last time, she disappears.
This good-humored zaniness is the hallmark of the new show, which refines routines from the older "Black Light Magic" and adds specialty numbers for Baumann. (If his name is familiar, perhaps you saw his enchanting and acrobatic Puck in productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Charlotte Repertory Theatre or N.C. Shakespeare Festival.)
"Blumenthal Performing Arts has been amazingly supportive," says Minor. "They've offered us a production budget, which we've never had. We usually hold things together with spit and tissue paper, but this time we brought Karl for a week of preparation in March.
"We're doing three school shows this time, not 10, and reaching a new audience that may not know what we do."
Explaining to the uninitiated what Omimeo does is tough.
"Black Light Magic" starts with a man hanging clothes on a line. A storm yanks him into an alternate reality; there he encounters a mimed symphony, a crazy nightclub and an underwater realm with flying fish, a mermaid, an undulating amoeba and a giant shark.
"VaudeVizual" riffs off similar routines and stars Baumann in three self-conceived solos. In one, he works out of a box that looks like a large remote control. In another, he contorts atop a post. The third is a rope act where he sways and swirls.
The Las Vegas-based actor also plays a guitar while "sleeping" and serves as a kind of master of ceremonies, using the voice that never gets heard with Cirque. (He still performs with that company and teaches movement workshops for it.)
"The early Cirque shows were close to what we're doing here," says Baumann, who performed in "Quidam" when it came to Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2002. "Those came out of mime and juggling and street performances, putting together a group where everyone has a different talent."
One talent goes unseen in the Omimeo shows: All told, nine "manipulators" work with puppets, standing behind or beside props in total darkness.
"The choreography has to be exact, or we bang into each other," says Williams. "You can't see someone in black velvet if you stand a foot away." (Eric Winkenwerder, who has worked with the company for 33 years, designed the lighting.)
Though the show is a leap forward for the company, and Minor says he thinks it could tour, Omimeo won't become anybody's full-time gig.
Williams runs Williams Hosiery, a Gastonia company that specializes in socks for film and theatrical productions ("Get Low," the upcoming "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"). Minor is a clown, a mime and an occasional teacher, and he plays countless characters at corporate shows.
"We're kind of successful because we're weekend warriors," says Minor. "Otherwise, you have to go to the next bureaucratic level, with a board of directors. A big push once a year seems right for us."