Cirque du Soleil®’s latest high-flying musical extravaganza Alegría, playing now through Sunday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC, is aptly named. This crowd-pleasing touring production from the critically acclaimed Montréal, Canada-based European-style circus without animals takes its title from the Spanish word for “joy,” “elation,” and “jubilation” — and it is joy personified in various and sundry jaw-dropping and eyebrow-raising acts.
Alegría begins with the invasion of the audience by an uproarious clown posse, which includes a hunchbacked master of ceremonies and audience guide called Fleur and a seedy chorus line called the Old Birds. The exquisitely gowned White Singer and storyteller also helps the highly appreciative audience navigate the twists and turns of the performance whose highlights include a Synchro Trapeze act, a pair of Contortionists who have perfected the Mongolian art of twisting their bodies into impossible positions, Fire-Knife Dancers who thrill the spectators with their doubly dangerous dance, a Flying Man whose apparatus combines the elasticity of bungee cords with gymnastic rings, and a Hand Balancer who balances his body on canes up to 1.9 meters high.
Other audience delights include a gaggle of Power Track gymnasts and tumblers who soar impossibly high on trampolines built into the stage, another group of acrobats who perform synchronized somersaults and twists on Russian Bars only two to six inches wide.
But the piece de resistance of Wednesday evening’s performance was the Aerial High Bar act, in which a group of acrobat daredevils perched precariously on three bars located more than 40 feet above the stage and turned that aerie into an aerial playground where they swapped places on a trapeze built for two — before their stunning dismounts into a safety nets.
Director Franco Dragone and choreographer Debra Brown put plenty of oos and ahs in their frisky staging of Alegría, set designer Michel Crête and lighting designer Luc Lafortune provide a perfect playground for the performers, costume designer Dominique Lemieux put beaucoup razzle-dazzle into her eye-catching costumes; and composer and arranger René Dupéré created ethereal songs — in what sounds like several different languages — for the White Singer to perform. Together, they made the fantastical dreams of artistic guides Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix come true in such spectacular fashion that RBC Center patrons saluted the show, its creators, and performers with a heartfelt and lengthy standing ovation at the conclusion of Wednesday night’s performance.
SECOND OPINION: July 7th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Kate Dobbs Ariail: http://www.indyweek.com/artery/archives/2011/07/07/cirque-du-soleils-alegria-soars; July 1st Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Théoden Janes: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/07/01/1310669/running-away-to-the-cirque.html; and May 21st Raleigh, NC WRAL-TV RaleighWood: Pop Culture with a Triangle Twist blog by Kathy Hanrahan: http://www.wral.com/entertainment/blogpost/9619755/. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the July 2nd Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/07/cirque-du-soleil-will-bring-alegria-to-the-rbc-center-for-eight-performances-starting-july-6th/.)
The RBC Center presents Cirque du Soleil in ALEGRÍA at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. July 8 and 9 and 1 and 5 p.m. July 10 at 1400 Edwards Mill Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $45.75-$108.65 (including fees).
RBC Center Box Office: Buy in person.
Ticketmaster: 800/745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115097/1329660.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/ 861-5457, email@example.com, or http://www.rbccenter.com/default.asp?RBCcenter=84&urlkeyword=Group_Sales.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/alegria/extras/videos.aspx.
DIRECTIONS: http://www.rbccenter.com/default.asp?RBCcenter=170&urlkeyword=Directions & Maps.
Alegría: http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/alegria/default.aspx (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alegría_(Cirque_du_Soleil) (Wikipedia).
Cirque du Soleil: http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/home.aspx#/en/home/americas/usa.aspx (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirque_du_Soleil (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.