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As a theater critic who used to travel to Las Vegas twice a year to review some of the most unusual shows, I have seen a lot of amazing Cirque De Soleil productions. Crystal, now being performed at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, is the first Cirque show I have seen incorporating ice skating as well as the acrobatics and great dancing I have come to expect from Cirque de Soleil performance. Cirque shows are unique in that they include performers from all over the world and include some of the most imaginative acts ever seen.  

Crystal was no exception. I was thoroughly impressed with this unique show's high production value, up to date personal, empowering story line and superbly multi-talented performers. 

Crystal is a family friendly show that will also appeal to adults with its seductively yet tastefully clad dancer/skaters aerialists and powerful live music. In fact, some of the musicians actually take to the ice while playing their instruments!

Crystal tells the story of a young girl who is very sensitive to the negativity she faces all around her in everyday life including the monotony of school days, the threat of bullying because of her own uniqueness and the sadness that comes from watching her parents also crushed by the difficulties of daily life and simply "going through the motions" of love. 

Crystal wishes she could skate away from it all and doing so gets her wish when she falls through the ice and into a parallel universe where she meets another wiser version of herself and receives a great gift to help her through life by expressing her deepest thoughts and feelings - the gift of writing!

Crystal's delightfully rebellious and complex character is played by a few different dancers and with the help of stunning lighting effects, breathtaking stunts and a soaring musical score, the audience gets to see Crystal's magical journey similar to that in Alice in Wonderland in three never before seen dimensions. 

The audience I was with gave the performers a well-deserved standing ovation. The show includes amazing ice skating stunts along beautifully choreographed Olympics-caliber performances. There are also high-flying acts by talented aerialists that are breathtaking, stunning acrobatics, colorful costumes and a good amount of humor.

I highly recommend this mystical and exciting production for adults who'd like to see a really special holiday show and children who will be blown away by the grace of the dancer/skaters, the nail biting scariness of the aerialists and the humorous beaks by several characters which also include ice skating stunts and jumps that will have you catching your breath with suspense. 

Crystal is performed at Sears Centre Arena through November 19th.

Published in Theatre in Review

In the Chicago premiere of Cirque du Soleil’s 38th original production, LUZIA (a combination of two Spanish words, luz (light) and lluvia (rain)) transcends the audiences into a lucid dream, an imaginary world of Mexico. Based on traditional Mexican culture, this Big Top show reflects back on the beautiful country and the rich culture, history and mythology it draws its inspiration from; it’s playful, colorful and romantic.

LUZIA opens with the curious traveler/clown descending onto the stage outfitted with a large golden disk that resembles Aztec calendar; he turns a large key, and everything comes to life. Nature figures prominently in this beautiful spectacle: rain water, desert, animals and enormous insects crawling around during some acts will keep the kids in the audience well entertained. For the first time in Cirque du Soleil’s touring history, water is made an integral part of the show; rain is incorporated into acrobatic and artistic scenes; at one point the rain itself magically turns into silhouettes of plants and animals (set designer Eugenio Caballero). The stream of water culminates in the cenote (a naturally occurring sinkhole the Mayan believed was a sacred gateway to the afterlife) at the center of the stage floor. During visually enticing Aerial Straps act the performer glides across the cenote, flipping his long, wet hair around and interacting with a life-size puppet-jaguar whose movements are so well choreographed, the entire scene looks like a CG (puppet choreography by Max Humphries). Another highlight of the show for me was the contortionist Aleksei Goloborodko’s act, who is believed to be the most flexible person in the world. He first appears folded like a giant tarantula, then stretches into a snake and morphs back again into an insect – mesmerizing!

Guinness World Record holder Rudolf Janecek’s impressive performance (he can simultaneously juggle 7 pins at mind blowing speeds) is a tribute to the art of speed juggling popular in Mexico. Another time-bending act is the Hoop Diving with acrobats wearing bird costumes; the clever use of two treadmills creates the illusion of time speeding up.

A distinct vintage detail abounds throughout the show giving it a classy old Mexico feel. The old movie set is a reminder of simpler times, and the beautiful Adagio number has a romantic 1920’s flare with the three porters hurling a seemingly weightless female flyer above their heads in a graceful dance.

Costume designer Giovanna Buzzi kept the costumes colorful but subdued, with each scene having its own color or combination of colors creating bright yet sophisticated scenery.
As expected from a Cirque du Soleil show, a live band with a singer (Majo Cornejo) provide accompaniment during some acts, performing a total of 15 songs.

In the end, everything comes together: the music, the costumes, the performances. Co-written by Hamelin Finzi and director Daniele Finzi Pasca, LUZIA is a magical journey to the heart of Mexico. Highly recommended!

For more show information or to purchase tickets, click HERE.

Cirque du Soleil
LUZIAis Cirque du Soleil’s 38th original production since 1984, and its 17th show presented under the Big Top. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 160 million spectators in more than 400 cities on six continents. Cirque du Soleil has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from close to 50 different countries.
For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.

Published in Theatre in Review

Cirque du Soleil is thrilled to venture into uncharted territory with its brand new creation, Cirque du Soleil Crystal, exploring the artistic attributes of ice for the very first time. Specifically created for arenas, the state-of-the-art production will create a fresh innovative experience, pushing the boundaries once again by combining outstanding skating and sliding, remarkable aesthetics and acrobatic feats that defy the imagination.
 
“We are excited to create a unique entertainment experience on ice for all spectators to enjoy. It's a wonderful opportunity for Cirque du Soleil as ice provides us with an entirely new field of play which also comes with a set of creative challenges. Our goal is to continuously surprise audiences by showcasing all the incredible possibilities on ice,” explained Yasmine Khalil, Executive Producer of Crystal.
 
Crystal will follow a young woman who shatters through reality to reach a surreal world filled with possibility. Beneath the surface, she pursues the life that has been glistening within. Sometimes, we must first leave solid ground to find our true footing.
 
Cirque du Soleil invites the audience to discover Crystal – A Breakthrough Ice Experience – and find out what it means to skate on the edge of reality.
 
Performance Schedule & Ticket Information
Cirque du Soleil Crystal will be presented at the Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Parkway, Hoffman Estates, IL in six performances only, November 16-19, 2017. Performances take place Thursday - Friday, November 16-17, at 7:30pm; Saturday, November 18, at 3:30 & 7:30pm; and Sunday, November 19, at 1 & 5pm.
 
Tickets for Cirque du Soleil Crystal start at $30.00 and go on sale Wednesday, June 21, at 10am by phone at 888-SEARSTIX (732-7784) or online by visiting www.searscentre.com.
 
Sponsor
Forsythe Technology is the Official Sponsor of Crystal in the United States
 
Cirque du Soleil
Crystal is Cirque du Soleil’s 42nd original production since 1984. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 180 million spectators in more than 450 cities on six continents. Cirque du Soleil has over 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from 50 different countries.
For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.
More information about Crystal by Cirque du Soleil can be found at cirquedusoleil.com/crystal, and on  Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

zarkana-jugglingCirque du Soleil has innovated the circus as we once knew it and has transformed it into something that has become so more visual, musical and exciting than ever could have been imagined. While some Cirque shows are set to a particular theme such as the music of the Beatles or Michael Jackson or perhaps an epic Asian battle or even a water spectacular, Zarkana is different than most as it focuses on three ring circus acts that we grew up with, likely beneath a large tent.

Zarkana is performed center strip at Las Vegas’ Aria Resort and Casino inside a massive, and very beautiful theatre. Prior to the show, some of the 70-plus cast members from around the world are sprinkled throughout the venue interacting with people searching for their seats setting an exciting tone for what is about to come.

Each circus act brings out another gigantic set and bevy of creative costumes that are full of imagination with colors and movement that transcend the audience to another world for ninety minutes. Bringing to the forefront such fantastically traditional circus feats such as walking the high-wire, balancing acts, death-defying flying trapeze stunts and mind-boggling juggling, Cirque intensifies the experience of each with hypnotic music, amazing visuals and often incorporates its rich Vaudevillian humor.

Oohs and aahs are heard across the auditorium as acrobats fly overhead, performing maneuvers that can only be found in one’s deepest imaginings. Dream like motions are brilliantly blended with dangerous stunts that sometimes will have one on the end of their seat. An ingenious cast of characters are as colorful as they are funny. Zarkana is a show that can appeal to just about anyone’s sense of adventure.

Of the many acts performed, the Wheel of Death was probably one that caused the most amazement. The "wheel" is actually a largespace framebeam with hooped tracks at either end, within which the performers can stand. As the performers run around on either the inside or outside of the hoops, the whole apparatus rotates. The performers also perform balancing skills with the wheel in a stationary position. As the device spins faster and faster the stunts become more intense. Another stand out act was the Cyr Wheel. This is where acrobats rolled around the stage within large hoops while performing all kinds of mind-blowing tricks.

Each act was remarkable in its own right and opened one new world of imagination after the next. Whether an eight-year-old kid or a seventy-five year-old kid, Zarkana is certainly a sight to be seen and an experience you will not soon forget.

A Las Vegas show not to be missed, Zarkana has two performances each evening (7pm and 9:30pm) Friday through Tuesday. Tickets currently run between $69-$180 and can be purchased at 855.ZARKANA or by visiting http://www.aria.com/cirque/zarkana. 

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