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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

When Black Sabbath formed in 1968, who would have guessed they would be playing a farewell tour 48 years later? In fact, after their notorious partying throughout the mid-1970s, who would have thought they’d all still be alive? But here they are, circling the world once more with a collection of Sabbath hits to satisfy their most hardcore of fans, and then some. Only original drummer Bill Ward sits on the sidelines, much to the dismay of Sabbath fans, thanks to a dispute between the famed band members. In the meantime, Ozzy Osbourne along with guitarist Tony Iomi and bassist Geezer Butler take to the stage Tommy Clufetos, Ozzy’s solo drummer. The tour, simply called The End kicked off in Omaha on January 20th. 

Black Sabbath is not only responsible for countless bands in the metal genre as a true pioneer in their music field, they have also survived in many ways most bands could not. One of the few bands that maintained their success level after changing lead vocalists - Ronnie James Dio in 1979 then Ian Gillan in 1983 – Black Sabbath remained in the forefront of heavy metal and even found moderate triumph when switching to more unknown singers (Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin) before reuniting with Dio in 1992 for the Dehumanizer album. After bringing back Martin for two albums in the mid-nineties, the band found big success once again touring alternately with Osbourne and Dio. In 2013 Black Sabbath released their first album with Osbourne since 1978’s Technical Ecstasy, a release that received critical acclaim, modestly titled 13.  

With dates scheduled through September, Black Sabbath’s second stop on their new – and final – tour was Chicago’s United Center. With crowd pleasing support from The Rival Sons, Sabbath started off their set by kicking into the powerful self-titled song “Black Sabbath”, a song that features the dreaded devil’s fifth. Naturally the band threw their most notorious hits into the mix  like “Iron Man”, “N.I.B.” and “War Pigs”, but most impressive was their use of lesser played songs over the years like “After Forever”, “Fairies Wear Boots”, “Under the Sun” and a song they haven’t played live since 1978, “Hand of Doom”. 

The set props were as basic as they should be for the metal icons – stacked amplifiers lined up behind the musicians and an overhead jumbo screen for the benefit of those with farther seats from the stage. It wasn’t until the last few songs that pyrotechnics were used, allowing fans to devote their focus entirely on the band and its music. While Iomi and Butler’s riffs were as punctual and deadly as ever, Osbourne struggled with his range often dropping out when attempting to hold a note or singing a key or two below the song as we know it. And so what. Osbourne’s performance was still inspiring. The now 67-year-old singer had command of the crowd since walking onto the stage, getting the arena to clap, cheer and shout simultaneously as had had been doing since the 1970s, but most of all he seemed to be having the time of his life – and that’s the Ozzy we all have come to know and love.

Black Sabbath played just one song of their latest release 13, “God is Dead?” though “The End of the Beginning” might have been the more desired choice off that album. Still, it was played with the flavor and power we can only except and Black Sabbath song to be played. Surprisingly, the band did not play anything off Ozzy featured albums Sabbath Bloody Sabbath or Sabotage, and not so surprisingly Never Say Die. Still, no complaints on their set list, as it was both fulfilling and played with the ass-kicking punch as only Butler and Iomi can deliver. Sabbath chose to incorporate a heavy dose of the Paranoid album, reaching into it for six of their set’s sixteen songs. 

After rattling off a blistering version of “Paranoid”, the final number on the 13 Tour and finale for Sabbath’s previous Omaha date, Osbourne and company left the arena of screaming fans with an earth-shaking effort of “Children of the Grave”. 

For metal lovers, seeing Black Sabbath perform is a must. For Sabbath lovers, you can’t really see them enough no matter what incarnation but especially with Ozzy himself at the helm. Fortunately, if you missed the United Center show, the band will return on September 4th at The Hollywood Amphitheatre in Tinley Park for their final goodbye to Chicago.  After all, this is The End.

Set List United Center January 22nd Show 

Black Sabbath

Fairies Wear Boots

After Forever

Into the Void

Snowblind

War Pigs

Behind the Wall of Sleep

N.I.B.

Hand of Doom

Rat Salad

Iron Man

God Is Dead?

Under the Sun

Dirty Women

Paranoid

Children of the Grave

 

 

 

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