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Prospera in Amaluna

Costume designer: Mérédith Caron

(Photo credit: Yannick Déry)


For perhaps its loveliest incarnation, Cirque du Soleil, the most unbelievably successful traveling circus in the world, has acquired renowned Broadway theater talents to weave and present the astounding human talents Cirque du Soleil scours said world to find, then bring to our amazed and delighted notice—and their delighted monetary success. They’re a billion dollar business. They are back in their Big Top, their marvelous Grand Chapiteau, and somehow it seems the best of places to be. For decades, Guy Laliberté, the creator, led this once tiny street troupe into the behemoth employing thousands. Now, there are sixteen creators working, leading, shaping every aspect of these enchanting family entertainments that continue to delight us, tiny tykes to active ancients, year after year, season after season.


And what a show! This being a multifarious Shakespearean year, it is not surprising to find that the story line connecting this ooh-aah, jaw dropping exposition of acts as an embellished version of The Tempest with a whole palate of flavors by glorious performers in stunning attire and skills replacing Shakespeare’s glorious words. Diane Paulus directing, fresh from Broadway Tony triumph, heavy hitter Scott Pask designing settings and a welter of riveting props, and costume designer Mérédith Caron outdoing herself in glitz, glitter and gazumph, from veils to peacock tails, and, of course, three choreographers (Karole Armitage, Debra Brown, and Caitlan Maggs) whirling their wildly costumed performers, from floor to the heights, and my favorite creature, Caliban, now called Cali, half-man, half- lizard, played with wicked, sardonic humor and grace by Viktor Kee. (I still don’t know how he twitches his reptilian appendage.)


Now, Prospero is Prospera (commanding Julie McInnes) but Miranda is still daughter Miranda (absolutely stunning Ikhertsetseg Bayarsaikhan) who is also a water nymph as well as the finest, silkiest, supplest, loveliest of acrobats, a work of art. As is the harrowing and danger filled Chinese pole work executed with deceptive ease by her daring Romeo (well, it’s still Shakespeare) Evgeny Kurkin, who gives a terrifying, extraordinary performance, a masterpiece of poetic strength in iron control when he is not wooing Miranda or being drowned in the moon pool.


Everyone, the strutting, horse-tailed women warriors, the roustabouts, the body jugglers, the limpidly beautiful moon goddess aerialist (Andréanne Nadeau), all are constantly supported by a bevy of female musicians playing, singing, parading the compositions of Bob and Bill until the hold-your-breath stillness of an entire audience as the uniquely amazing Lily Chao Rigolo performs what we all know is impossible, a construction in balancing, thin air, will power and incredible skill, until the last moment when it all comes true.



Cerceau and Waterbowl (Amaluna)

(Photo credit: Yannick Déry)


And then, that startling half-lizard, Cali, sheds his animal skin and tail, becomes arresting Viktor Kee, vaults atop the great fishbowl moon pool and proceeds to juggle with such flair, such shocks of humor, such animal grace you almost forget he’s an enchanted lizard.


Of course, there is a burst of aerialists flying overhead as the revels come to a close and Prospera exerts her spells over all. Was this the most spellbinding of the serial Cirque du Soleil shows because it was so female-centered? Certainly, Amaluna is one of their most beautiful and most satisfying. In spite of the clowns. What is there about the crude, corny, hokey, exaggerated mugging and capering that characterizes almost all the clowns in all the Cirque du Soleil shows that keeps them coming, show to show, a kind of tradition?? Once, I recall, once only, was the clown sequence funny. So it can be done. Nothing wrong with the vulgarity and slapstick if you’ve got the chops to carry them off. Tradition, I get it. But thank goodness for their artists who can be really funny when they wish.


“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that has such people in’t!”



Moon Goddess (Amaluna)

(Photo credit: Yannick Déry)


Amaluna (through May 18, 2014)

Cirque du Soleil

Grand Chapiteau – Citi Field, Flushing Meadow Park, Queens

Enter at 123-01 Roosevelt Avenue off the Grand Central Parkway

For tickets: call 800-450-1480 or visit

Running time: two hours including one intermission

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