Theatre in Review

Thursday, 06 April 2017 18:41

The Magical Splendor of Cavalia’s Odysseo

One might be unsure of what to expect from a show featuring 65 horses and 48 artists, but the mystical grandeur of Odysseo by Cavalia leaves one feeling awe and in disbelief of the athletic feats and performance they have just witnessed. Set to live musical performances of a band and live singers, Odysseo takes the audience on a journey through different lands, cultures, seasons, and across land, water and air to display the astonishing talents of the horses, riders and acrobats. Hailed as “The Best Show Ever”, Cavalia is a performance like no other seen in the past. 

 

Sitting under a Big Top as large as a football field, everyone is anxious to see the first horses enter the scene, and once that happens the crowd is giddy with delight as they gallop across the stage. It is wonderful to be in the presence of such beautiful horses and one can’t help but feel lucky enough to be near them and imagine brushing their beautiful manes. An incredible amount of talent is demonstrated through each routine. The horses also display their personalities through their interactions together, sometimes even picking on each other in the middle of the act as if to say, “Hey! That’s where I’m supposed to stand!” 

 

Some of the most daring parts of the show establish the bond between the artists and horses. This bond is very apparent throughout each act as they work together to perform many stunts and dances in unison. Riders often appear hanging from the side, underneath, or standing on top of a galloping horse. The timing alone is so crucial for the stunts and the trust between the horse and performer is palpable. 

 

The acrobatic feats of the performers is one, no, two steps beyond what one might have seen from other troupes. Angel-like Aerialists are kept grounded via their flowing aerial silks to horses and riders below who are guiding them in a circle while they float, spin and wrap themselves in a dance that could only be done in the air. Phenomenal acrobats flip across the stage, across each other, and often on top of each other forming human steeples and pyramids that look like one person is entirely supporting at the bottom of the steeple. Performers wearing spring-legs are human kangaroos often jumping as high and as far as the horses. The strength and agility of the performers during the act "Carosello" is breathtaking, the piece completely unique to Cavalia. Incorporating a spinning carousel suspended from the top of the set, acrobats are dancing together on the moving poles demonstrating immense strength and teamwork that is disguised with graceful, flowing moves, sometimes looking effortless.

The set by Guillaume Lord is magnificent and plays like a main character throughout the show. The depth that is created through use of video screens, lighting, and a stage that slopes down from the height of three stories, creates a vast landscape that is used to tell stories with a cinema-like quality. Horses and riders arrive from distant mountains and are most stunning in the act "Travellers". Water is brought to the set through creating rain and a pond that helps highlight the very talented prancing horse, accentuating the performance of acrobats and the stunts riders perform on the galloping horses. The large screens display video creating a layered backdrop and the use of lighting helps to fashion different textures on the ground that takes us to many different landscapes, producing a mystical world where horses, riders and acrobats live in harmony while creating art. 

 

Under the Artistic Direction of Normand Latourelle and the Direction of Wayne Fowkes, Odysseo by Cavalia will transform your expectations of shows of similar caliber. It is an inimitable experience that gives the audience the opportunity to enjoy a spectacular performance like no other that demonstrates agility and grace through cooperation and trust. It is a must see along with anything that Cavalia creates in the future. 

The horses in Cavalia are used from all parts of the world including Spain, France, Germany, Australia, The United States and Canada with breeds ranging from Arabian, Appaloosa, Lustitano and Holsteiner to name a few. Well cared for, a 20-person team comprised of trainers, veterinarians, groomers and health technicians travel with the show. To stay in tip-top shape, the horses go through a daily stretching and gymnastic routine daily. And no need to worry as the horses are well fed, receiving eight healthy meals per day with special treats (carrots and apples) given to each on Sunday evenings. In fact, each horse has a diet based on its individual needs. 

 

The human performers are also well-traveled, coming from Italy, Brazil, the United States, Russia, France, Guinea, Poland, Canada and Ukraine as nine languages are spoken at Odysseo.

 

Visually stimulating, adventurous, spectacular and one of the most original shows to come through Chicago in years, Cavalia is a family-friendly show that people will be talking about for some time. 

 

Odysseo by Cavalia will be performing under the Big Top located in the South Lot of Soldier Field through April 23rd (now extended to June 3rd). Tickets are available at www.cavalia.com or calling 866.999.8111. Special pricing and packages are available or groups. 

 

Published in Theatre in Review

As the logistical and technical teams work on completing the Odysseo Village at Soldier Field South Lot for the highly-anticipated Midwest debut of Odysseo by Cavalia on April 1, its 65 magnificent horses have arrived in Chicago and are enjoying a relaxing 14-day stay at a nearby farm.

Following sold-out performances in Vancouver, BC, the four-legged stars flew into Chicago O’Hare International airport aboard a charted 747 aircraft equipped with air stalls. They were then transported to a lavish and spacious farm in Bristol, Wisconsin, in specially equipped trailers alongside Odysseo’s equine specialists. The Odysseo herd, consisting of nine breeds including Appaloosa, Arabian, Quarter Horse, Holsteiner, Lusitano, Paint Horse, Percheron Hanoverian Cross, Selle Français and Spanish Purebred (P.R.E.), is under the care of a 20-person team.

At their Wisconsin retreat, expansive paddocks welcome the four-legged stars of Odysseo where they are able to play, bathe in the sun or roll in the snow. This interlude between shows is part of Cavalia’s horse care and training philosophy, which is based on understanding the needs, preferences, and emotions of the animals, and on mutual respect, kindness, patience, and trust.

The world’s largest touring show, Odysseo is a show unlike any other on the planet, an immersive theatrical experience in which horses are front and center. Imagined by Normand Latourelle - creator of Cavalia and renowned for combining different forms of artistic expression and reinventing the scenic space - Odysseo is a veritable revolution in live performance that makes hearts race. Audiences of all ages will be transported on an epic journey to some of nature’s greatest wonders by this breathtaking production that features the 65 horses plus 48 talented riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians. 

TICKETS – Adult tickets are priced from $34.50 to $144.50 (no service charge). Special pricing and packages also available for groups, children (2-12), juniors (13-17) and seniors (65+). For an extra special outing, the Rendez-Vous VIP package offers the best seats in the house, full meal buffet dining before the show, open bar, desserts during intermission and an exclusive visit to the stables after the show. This unique VIP experience takes place in a tent alongside the White Big Top. The Rendez-Vous VIP package prices range from $144.50 to $269.50 (no service charge).

                    Odysseo will be performed at Soldier Field's South Lot April 1-April 23     Photo by Jak Wonderly  

ABOUT CAVALIA INC. - Cavalia Inc. is an entertainment company that specializes in the creation, production and touring of innovative shows. Founded by Normand Latourelle, the company reimagines the equestrian and theatrical arts. With its headquarters in Montreal, Cavalia Inc. is an integral part of Canada’s cultural heritage, and the largest Canadian-owned cultural enterprise. Its expertise in high technology, multimedia and special effects creates magical, unique, never-before-seen experiences. Its first show, Cavalia, has been seen by more than 4 million people across North America, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Asia since its 2003 debut. Odysseo, the company’s second show, has toured to rave reviews and public acclaim since its 2011 premiere. Follow Cavalia’s latest developments at www.twitter.com/cavalia or www.facebook.com/cavalia. #OdysseoCHI

 

FOR CALENDARS

 

WHAT:            Odysseo by Cavalia

WHEN:            Shows begin April 1

                       Official Opening Night Premiere – Tuesday, April 4

                       Matinee and evening performances scheduled through April 23

WHERE:          Under the White Big Top at Soldier Field South Lot

                       South Lot, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago

                       **Entrance at parking gates on East 18th Drive**

TICKETS:         Available at www.cavalia.comand by calling 1-866-999-8111

                       Adult tickets are priced from $34.50 to $269.50 (no service charge)

                       Special pricing & packages available for groups, children (2-12), juniors (13-17) and seniors (65+).

INFO:               www.cavalia.com

 

Published in Upcoming Theatre

I had no idea what to expect Sunday night when I went to Soldier Field to see Guns N’ Roses. I really didn’t. I knew what I had hoped to see in what is now the highest grossing tour in 2016 but was still a bit skeptical seeing as the band has been on the outs for such a long time. Reviews of the band’s “Not In This Lifetime” reunion tour have been mixed, some claiming that Slash had been carrying the show, implying the other band members were merely present as symbols of yesteryear so that as much of an original lineup could be put together as possible to warrant such a major occasion that could fill stadiums. That’s not what I saw – not even close. Yes, Slash was amazing in himself, but I saw a band that collectively charged the stage and played with an enormous amount of continuity, energy, confidence and precision. I saw a band where EACH member contributed as much as the next in what turned out to be a very special event – the event one can only hope for when throwing around the words “Guns N’ Roses reunion”. 

Having seen the band four times between the Appetite for Destruction and the Use Your Illusion releases, it is apparent that Guns N’ Roses now has access to a much larger and complex stage show where pyrotechnics and jumbo screens assist in presenting the band’s vision like never before. But of course you can’t have a successful reunion run without the music. There’s no denying the band has the catalog of material to please their hungry fan base, but let’s be honest – it’s been a long time since the band has played together and we now live in a world where comeback tours often recycle band members and thrust them on stage whether they can still perform or not. Guns N’ Roses is not one of these bands. While Slash wailed away on his Les Paul, effortlessly ripping through riffs and solos, bassist Duff McKagan also showed he was still in peak form even laying out impressive lead vocals on Iggy Pop’s “Raw Power”, a song the band covered on The Spaghetti Incident. McKagan patrolled the large stage area bleeding the Guns N’ Roses arrogance we have come to know, projecting the epitome of rock n’ roll attitude.

To me, I had little doubt that the instrumentation would be there, I was most curious if Axl Rose would still be able to gel with the others (and them with him) and, frankly, if his voice would hold up. Within minutes of the show, any doubts I may have had completely vanished. Axl was nailing it – and then some. With an incredible energy level that had him running all over the stage and grinding out his famous rock moves, Axl’s vocals were spot on and possibly even more powerful than ever before. His stage presence was dominant. He controlled the crowd. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes but all signs pointed to the three original members expressing great enjoyment as they played with each other – and this while playing at an optimum level. 

The still youthful band, both musically and physically fit, was rounded out with Richard Fortus, who has been playing guitar for Guns N’ Roses since 2001 and was a presence in his own right, drummer Frank Ferrer (since 2006) who gives Matt Sorum a run for his money, longtime keyboardist Dizzy Reed and newbie Melissa Reese who manned a second keyboard.

Like a locomotive, the band’s sound was delivered with force from the get go when they opened with “It’s So Easy”. In a set that lasted somewhere in the neighborhood of two hours and forty-five minutes, Guns N’ Roses tackled a plethora of favorites including “Mr. Brownstone”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Civil War”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Coma”, “Estranged”, “Live and Let Die” and “Rocket Queen”. The band also played a handful of material from their critically acclaimed 2008 release Chinese Democracy, going into the title track along with “This I Love” and “Better”. 

In what could only be interpreted as a tribute to Prince, the entire stage filled with billows of purple smoke just after an inspiring performance of “November Rain”. Duff also sported the symbol of Prince on his bass. Nice touch, fellas.  

Theirs was a set that never let up. After one gratifying selection after another the band finished up with “Nightrain” before returning for an encore with “Don’t Cry”, The Who’s “The Seeker” and a ramped up “Paradise City”. 

Guns N’ Roses “Not In This Lifetime” tour certainly lives up to the hopes of their many fans. It’s what fans knew the band could still be. Musically, the tour is fulfilling and visually, it is stimulating. It is the complete package. No shortcuts or cutting corners here. What fans get is an exciting, full blown Guns N’ Roses experience. I’m just glad Chicago made the band’s shortlist or tour stops. Great music, stage show and musicianship aside, not to worry, the band still carries a healthy “Fuck You” brashness after all these years – an important ingredient in G N’ R’s recipe for success.           

Alice in Chains provided strong support for Guns N’ Roses for their Chicago stops and is highly deserving of their own rave review. Though Soldier Field may be the last stop for Alice in Chains as opening support, Guns N’ Roses will continue to take heavy-hitting acts along with them on the road with Lenny Kravitz, The Cult and Wolfmother scheduled on later dates. 

So what’s next after a successful reunion tour? That’s what everyone seems to be asking while hoping the answer is simply to make a new album and tour the shit out of it. Guns N’ Roses is back.    

 

  

 

Published in In Concert

 

 

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