CIRQUE DU SOLEIL–KOOZA
I love circuses. As many of you already know, maybe that’s because I was in one when I was a teen-ager. (Don’t worry–it makes no sense to me, either, and I’m the one who lived it!) More deets on my experiences some other time, because, as this site states, it’s not about me!
Sad to say, but this is only the fourth Cirque du Soleil show I’ve ever seen! Nothing will be as magical as that first time on the Santa Monica pier, but I’m happy to say that I loved this one as well. I don’t think that any one of their creations can ever be bad.
I had missed this year’s show, Kooza, when it was housed in their signature blue and yellow tent, the Grand Chapiteau, close to me in Santa Monica. Not wanting to miss out on the fun while it’s still in Southern California, I invited my friend, Caryn, (convenient when we meet strangers; though it’s spelled differently, they have only one name to remember!,) and we headed down to Irvine, which is really no big deal if you leave enough time for traffic, and just grab a bite once you get there.
We attended Opening Night, so, as it turned-out, we didn’t even have to worry about food because they served passed hors d’oeuvres to the entire assemblage! Complimentary popcorn and soda, as well! The servers told me that they do that for every opening in every city, too. Good to know, n’est pas? (The organizers are French-Canadian, hence my use of Francais.)
First, some props for the venue. Orange County Great Park was easy enough to get to, had very accessible parking, and an absolutely lovely staff! Especially Andy, who helped us park. Not awful Andy Gumps, either. Definitely a step up from my circus days!
Now to Kooza itself. Everything just works, from the international cast (can you imagine the cacophony of languages backstage?) to the music, which runs the gamut from big band to pounding techno, to colorful costumes, which we’ve come to expect from this group.
If you’ve never seen any Cirque show, all I can tell you is that this is as good a one to start with as any. If you have, I’ll let you know what’s different about this production. It may not be as extraordinary as some of the rest, but what I love about it is that it takes conventional circus acts and performs them to the nth degree, all with exotic twists.
As each act began, I thought to myself, “I’ve seen this many times before.” But as it progressed, so did my amazement. The whole audience was screaming after a while. (This audience started out a tad slow in the appreciation department, as far as I’m concerned, maybe because they were too full of free popcorn and finger food to put their hands together.) Where do the Cirque creators continually find these unbelievably gifted entertainers? (I know–mainly Europe and Canada; just a rhetorical question.)
While all the performers were astonishing, I had three favorite acts. First up were three amazing female contortionists, Julie Bergez, Natasha Patterson, and Dasha Sovik. My back actually hurt just watching them. And they smiled the whole time they were contorting! Oh My Gosh to this one. (Shamefully, I was billed as “World Famous Contortionist Little Mina From Copenhagen” back then. It’s pretty amusing to people who know me, especially when there are phenoms like this out there.)
Next up was a high-wire act the likes of which I’ve never seen. There were four guys (Flouber Sanchez and the Dominguez Family) on two wires simultaneously. We audience members alternately held our breath and screamed through their whole routine. I wish they hadn’t gilded the lily, though, by having a spotlight on the female band singer while they walked the tightrope. The Indian-type music added to the drama, but her perpetual motion was a tad distracting.
The audience responded the most to Jimmy Ibarra and Carols Marin Loaiza on the Wheel Of Death. It was a scream-fest from start to finish. I thought they were going to have to bring out oxygen masks…for us spectators! We were truly aghast. (I just looked-up synonyms for “aghast,” and trust me, we were all of them!)
In-between these feats of derring-do is the clown acts, which are the thread of the whole show. I must admit that I’ve never been a fan of clowning, although I recognize the merit of it. Perhaps that’s because of my own personal experience with the main clown in my circus. (I promise I’ll recount the whole story on a day when nothing else needs to be posted in a timely fashion here, so please check back for it from time to time. Trust me, it‘s a good one!)
(Or perhaps it’s because a fan of my show who was from Puerto Rico once said I reminded her of Hermalita, The Clown from her country, and I thought she was slamming me. Turns out she meant it as a compliment–Hermalita was considered the top comedian on TV there.)
But the audience seemed to enjoy the Cirque clowns, so who am I to judge? I’m sure they were good; they just reminded me of that guy Ross on The Tonight Show–high-pitched annoying-voiced and unfunny. I did appreciate them, though, for giving me a few minutes to grab back my composure, and breath(!), in-between the gutsy acrobatic performers. Now that I’m fully recovered, I’m ready to hit Vegas and catch some of their “resident shows.”
One last note: As if entertaining us so royally isn’t enough, I’m happy to report that this group is involved in charitable projects. Cirque founder, Guy Laliberte, has formed a foundation, ONE DROP, “to fight against poverty by providing access to water and raising awareness among individuals and communities about the need for mobilization in order to make safe water accessible to all, in sufficient quantity, today and tomorrow. ONE DROP™ believes in solidarity between those whose basic needs are met and those who are not as fortunate—everyone should have the means to live with dignity.” I say “Amen” to that, in every language.
Cirque Du Soleil running through February 14, 2010 at Orange County Great Park Irvine, CA 800-450-1480 www.cirquedusoleil.com/kooza