The latest production in Cirque du Soleil’s decades-long success story is on in Queens — next to CitiField, under the Grand Chapiteau.
Amaluna offers breathtaking athleticism, stunning flights of choreography-cum-gymnastics, and light and sound shows that keep the whole caravan on track.
The story borrows The Tempest’s tale. In this case, Prospera, (Julie McInnes) the island’s queen, conjures a storm that delivers shipwrecked sailors to her island for the entertainment of her Valkyries, Amazons, a raft of Katness Everdeens, and Prospera’s virgin daughter, Miranda (Iuliia Mykhailova). Amaluna is a woman’s world, the sounds, whispers to shrieks, are female, the costumes cling and float, the bodies writhe and fly.
The story loosely hangs together but Cirque du Soleil is never much about the plot and all about the ambition to astound. The young athletes who soar and spin and seem to fall are dazzling. Miranda swings her tiny, taut self in shape-shifting maneuvers balanced on one hand and we are breathless. Her young Romeo (Olivier Poitras) climbs a celestial pole (sic!) only to fall to earth; we gasp as he stops inches from disaster.
Two teams of tumbler-gymnasts, one the shipwrecked sailors (Tom Ammirati, Aaron Charbonneau, Julian Moreno Granda, Maxime Sabourin, and Olivier Sabourin), the other Prospera’s Amazons, (Laura-Ann Chong, Amara Defilippo, Melissa Fernandez, Summer Hubbard, Melanie Sinclair, and Brittany Urbain) cavort and leap and seem to play with gravity. They are riveting. Women stroll the stage playing electric guitars and drums — Prospera an unlikely saxophone — and somehow that works too.
Cali (Viktor Kee) – Cirque’s version of Caliban – is the stand out character. He is part man, part lizard and, like Shakespeare’s Cali, he is fierce and jealous and sometimes coarse. He is by turns charming and funny then sinister and punishing. He is the spice; the erotic, unpredictable element.
There is an artful number from the Balance Goddess (Lili Chao) that has to do with the balancing of sticks. She has the whole house holding it’s collective breath. Like most of what surprises here, it must be seen. Talking about it is damning with faint praise.
The actual clown — a pirate (Nathalie Claude) who does a bit of business with a woman planted in the audience — falls surprisingly flat. That said, the website suggests this was to be a more produced element than what showed up Friday night.
Briefly, if you have a taste for fast-paced spectacle that will have you drop-jawed several times in the space of a couple of hours, buy your ticket now. It’s a terrific show for adults, wasted on children.
Amaluna, like all of Cirque du Soleil productions relies, more than most theatricals, on collaboration. In this case, 16 creators worked under the artistic guidance of Guy Laliberté and Fernand Rainville. Diane Paulus directs.
With: Julie McInnes, Iuliia Mykhailova, Olivier Poitras,Viktor Kee, Andréanne Nadeau, and Nathalie Claude
Musicians: Julie McInnes, Jennifer Aubry, Didi Negron, Mireille Marchal, Teresa Morini, Angie Swan, and Rachael Wood.
Featured Performers: Xinyue Chen, Zhao Qian, Gaoyun Zhao, Yanling Zheng, Min Zhuang, Yulun Wang, Lei Fu, Sijiang Liu, Vanessa Fournier, Maxim Panteleenko, Amy McClendon, Andréanne Nadeau, Iuliia Mykhailova, Laura-Ann Chong, Amara Defilippo, Melissa Fernandez, Summer Hubbard, Melanie Sinclair, Brittany Urbain,Tom Ammirati, Aaron Charbonneau, Julian Moreno Granda, Maxime Sabourin, Olivier Sabourin,Lili Chao, Olivier Poitras, Viktor Kee, Virginie Canovas, Renée Koehler, Kylee Maupoux, Scott Pask,
Set and Props Designer; Mérédith Caron, Costume Designer; Bob & Bill, Composers; Jacques Boucher, Sound Designer; Matthieu Larrivée, Lighting Designer; Karole Armitage, Choreographer; Debra Brown, Acrobatic Choreographer; Caitlan Maggs, Acrobatic Choreographer; Rob Bollinger, Acrobatic Performance Designer; Fred Gérard, Rigging and Acrobatic Equipment
Now Playing at CitiField until May 18 2014. For ticketsVisit www.cirquedusoleil.com/amaluna or call 1 800 450-1480. Running time about two hours with one intermission.