Category Archive for: ‘Woody Weingarten’

‘Luzia’ circus features water, light and best acts ever

[Woody’s Rating: ★★★★☆

Highlighted in Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia” are high-flying acrobats without a safety net. Photo by Laurence Labat.

Highlighted in Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia” are high-flying acrobats without a safety net. Photo by Laurence Labat.

Cirque du Soleil. Incomparable.

Those words actually link up to form a redundancy.

“Luzia,” the Quebec-based animal-less circus’ latest offering at the 2,600-seat big top behind AT&T Park in San Francisco, combines (as does each of the troupe’s shows) elements of mythology and surrealism.

And astonishing special effects of rain and light.

But more than ever before, this two-hour show contains several unique acrobatic/gymnastic acts that are above and beyond (literally and figuratively) anything I’ve previously experienced.

What’d I enjoy most?

Breath-taking Cyr wheel gymnasts are featured in Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia.” Photo by Laurence Labat.

Breath-taking Cyr wheel gymnasts are featured in Cirque du Soleil’s “Luzia.” Photo by Laurence Labat.

Seven speed-demon hoop-divers on two slo-mo treadmills; a lanky clown, Eric Fool Koller of the Netherlands, who was funnier in several bits as a solo act than multiple previous-year clown ensembles; two women revolving in large Cyr wheels while an aerialist spun behind them; a contortionist from Russia, Aleksei Goloborodko, whose body twisted in ways that seemed impossible (a definitive “don’t try this at home” trick); and the fastest juggler I’ve ever seen, Rudolf Janecek of the Czech Republic, with whom the audience bonded because he occasionally couldn’t grab a silver cylinder in time.

Not to mention the acts that performed in real and projected waterfalls and a pool carved into the stage.

Spotlighted, too, was a huge horse puppet and one that looked like a cougar, each requiring three visible puppeteers to work.

Plus colorful and imaginative get-ups from the imagination of designer Giovanna Buzzi that included copious hummingbirds with wings and long beaks, endless other critters and 1,115 different costume elements that emphasized nature as metaphor, and a huge disc that changed color and content via projections.

All with a concocted Mexican theme.

Lots happened in half-shadows, half-light — adding to the drama.

Cirque du Soleil Cirque started as a shoestring-type experiment in 1984. It now has nearly 4,000 employees, including 1,300 artists from more than 50 countries.

Its publicity material says 155 million spectators in 300 cities on six continents have witnessed it.

“Luzia,” which is subtitled “A Waking Dream of Mexico,” may not be the best Cirque du Soleil ever, but its cast of 44 made it much more entertaining than I — jaded because I’ve been catching various versions for two decades — had expected.

“Luzia” plays in the big top behind AT&T Park in San Francisco through Jan. 29. Night performances, 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; matinees, 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, 1:30 and 5 p.m. Tickets: $42 to $244. Information: (800) 450-1480 or www.cirquedusoleil.com.

 Contact Woody Weingarten at at voodee@sbcglobal.net or www.vitalitypress.com.

 

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