This is a scene from the spectacle that is ZARKANA, Cirque Du Soleil’s hypnotizing stage/circus now playing at Radio City Music Hall. It is only here, says their spokesperson Nicole Heymen, for the rest of the summer. The show then moves to Las Vegas for what is being called its “permanent home.” And what it show it was.
What we are seeing here is the high-energy and rather crowded trapeze performance with members flying and tumbling through air in a clever spider-web dance. Off stage, costumed band members keep a soundtrack of rock and roll and new-agey music carefully choreographed to the movements on the stage.
The 90 minute show flew by as a stream of really busy activities, from the silly clowns (who were very, very funny), to the nerve-wracking, some of which made me squirm and want to look away. Like the second act, a male and female team where he held the straight ladder, while climbing it at the same time while a lightweight ballerina stood on his shoulders. She then somehow turned upside down (!) so that one hand was placed on his head and her feet were in the air. All the while, the ladder moved about nervously, and the audience held its breath. (I was thinking, “oh no, you’re not going to do THAT are you!)
A few of the acts were so-so, and that is par for any circus. The tennis-ball-bouncing lady did some nice juggling with some cute angle bounces, and a team of flag throwers were just interesting. But that was okay. There was enough white-knuckle acts, like the two gentleman who ran around a spinning wheel, or the tightrope walkers who jumped rope (always a show stopper), and some really high flying gymnastics, above and beyond what we’d see at the summer Olympics.
There were two solo performances that stood out more for their quiet talent. A costumed girl came out and knelt before a sand table that projected onto the screen behind her what she was drawing in the sand. One by one, fascinating creations came to life, whether the New York City skyline to drawings of the members of the troupe, including the wild-haired clowns. Towards the end of the show, the audience uieted down for the performer I called, “yoga guy.” In a plain white outfit, on his own raised platform, this well-toned gentlemen performed poses that yogi masters can only dream about.
The stage was a show in itself with light shows, videos flying by, and backdrops that complemented the live acts. The one drawback was the circus’ leading man, in a top hat and tails (glittering and sparkling), with long hair, who sang very dramatically, in a language I couldn’t figure out. What was he lamenting about? Did he lose his magical powers? It didn’t matter; when he left the stage, another act came on to take our attention away.
And lastly, the clowns. Yes, they are silly; yes, some of the antics I remember seeing on the Ed Sullivan Show, but when one of them was shot out of a canon, carried above our heads, pretending to fly in slow motion was pretty funny. When he spots an audience member he’d like to know better he begins to flirt, then, well, let me not ruin the scene.
We are so fortunate to be able to do a day trip to NYC either by train or by car, and the shows in the city are just amazing. Check this one out as it’s still running until September 2, and despite the occasional lag in the production, it is still a very cool show to see!
If you’re planning a trip to a NYC museum with your kids, here are great ways to make it a great visit!