Without saying a word, Dan Kamin makes audiences laugh. This superstar mime travels the globe and communicates soundlessly in every language.
Kamin trained Robert Downey Jr. for his Oscar-nominated performance in “Chaplin.” He taught Johnny Depp a trick or two for “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Benny and Joon.”
Now, he’s ready to show audiences in Wichita the power of mime.
Kamin will perform this weekend with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, which on Friday is putting on a casual, general admission “Blue Jeans” concert followed by traditional classics concerts on Saturday and Jan. 27.
During the first half of the concerts, Kamin will interact with the musicians and the conductor, Daniel Hege.
“It’s the story about a concert that goes wrong,” Kamin said. “Everything gets turned inside out and upside down.”
During the performance, Hege, who is also the orchestra’s music director, must not only interact with the musicians but also with Kamin. He becomes the character of the conductor.
“It’s quite challenging,” Hege said. “There are wordless cues.”
Kamin plays the classical clown. He wants to take over the orchestra. But Hege stands his ground.
“It’s like a silent film come to life,” Kamin said.
The musicians are also characters in the performance. They not only play classic masterpieces, but they also utilize mime techniques.
The antics continue after intermission, when Kamin will introduce films starring famous silent film actor Charlie Chaplin. The audience will see restored footage of Chaplin’s 1917 silent film classics “The Immigrant” and “Easy Street,” and the orchestra will provide the soundtrack, playing recently composed music by Grant Cooper of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
“The music is there to serve the film,” Hege said. “Audiences can realize what a great marriage there is between the film and the music.”
The musicians’ presence shows how crucial a soundtrack is to a movie, he said. Action scenes require fast-paced tunes, while sad ones might feature a melancholy piece on a cello.
“These scores are very wedded to the image,” Kamin said. “Silent movies were never silent; they always had music.”
But the music varied from theater to theater. What Cooper has done is probably more synchronized than what was available when these films came out, he said.
Along with the three shows for the orchestra, Kamin and the orchestra will perform for school groups this week. Kamin also might pop up in entertainment mode around town. He’s already been to Exploration Place, where he appeared as a mime named Mr. Slomo.
“I like to get in the community and try to shake things up,” Kamin said. “I like to do performance stunts.”
Kamin was drawn to mime when he was 12. And although he studied industrial design in college, he eventually came back to his calling – mime. Kamin is the author of “Charlie Chaplin’s One-Man Show” and “The Comedy of Charlie Chaplin: Artistry in Motion.”
Although he’s never been to Wichita before, Kamin worked with Hege earlier in their careers.
“Dan Kamin is the go-to mime for learning this great art of mime,” Hege said. “This is going to be something incredibly exciting and unique.”