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JAUNTS: in and around the Valley

Slippery Skills

One-woman bubble show relies on suds and wit to entertain and educate.

July 16, 1998|JANE HULSE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Call it the bubble that ate Simi Valley. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but the bubbles that Katherine Boring blows can consume an entire person.

She can blow them big. She can bounce them trampoline-style, take them on an imaginary roller-coaster or fashion them into a squiggly snake. She'll perform this bubble ballet Saturday at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center.

This soap-and-water show is more than good, clean fun. While kids "ooh" and "ahh" over mega-size bubbles, Boring weaves in a surprising amount of science. In fact, she calls herself a "bubblologist."

It's a one-woman show, but not completely. She brings kids on stage to let them experience what it's like to be encased in a huge bubble rainbow that shimmers colorfully from the stage lights.

For the kids, the temptation to pop the bubbles is overwhelming sometimes.

"No popping allowed--it's one of the rules," Boring cautions. "Just say no."

This Simi Valley mother of six (the youngest are 8-month-old twins) has been doing bubble shows for three years. "I always wanted to be an actress," she said. She's performed in local theater, and she and her husband are involved in TheaterSports, an improvisational theater group in Ventura.

Improvisation has been good training for everything that can go wrong in a bubble show. She's had kids dunk themselves in her soapy water. And air-conditioning or even a little draft can wreak havoc on bubbles.

The set for the show is low-tech, and there's no razzle-dazzle sound track. She uses a children's plastic swimming pool, Hula-Hoops and other gadgets, such as a "bubble launcher" made of two straws and some string. With plastic tennis racquet-like gizmos, she can blow bubble castles. She can even make bubbles inside bubbles.

It's an awesome sight, even for parents. But science is the real aim of the show: She slips in words such as "transparent" and offers tidbits about spheres and why bubbles are round--all with a dash of wit.

The 45-minute show is the brainchild of a San Diego woman, Beverly Speach, who started Bubble Mania & Company 12 years ago. Backed by a degree in science education, she was doing bubble demonstrations at a science center and packing them in when she came up with the idea for a show.

She has trained people like Boring--and others in the Southwest--to become "bubblologists" and perform the show on stage, at schools or even at birthday parties. (Boring's first bubble gig was a birthday party for the son of Warren Beatty and Annette Benning.)

"There's so much demand," Speach said. "It's an excellent way to teach science. It's visually mesmerizing."

Not to burst anyone's bubble, but it's trickier than it looks. Some feats take a great deal of skill, such as walking through a bubble or two people shaking hands through a bubble. She believes in pushing the limits, though, and her bubbles can stretch to 20 feet. But Boring and Speach encourage people to try the feats at home. What's the secret to great bubbles? For them, it's the original formula of water and Dawn liquid dishwashing soap. "Regular Joy works well too," Speach said.

Here's the recipe: Mix 2 1/2 cups of liquid soap with five gallons of water. It's reusable and may even be better the second time around. "Suds are the enemy of bubbles," Boring said. So, she skims the suds off the top of her mixture before she starts. She also keeps her hands wet to prevent unwanted pops.

The last bit of advice: "Be patient."

BE THERE

* Bubble Mania & Company, Saturday, 11 a.m., Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave. Tickets, $5. For information, call (805) 581-9940.

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