By Tulis McCall
The woman sitting next to me gave me the stink look early on in this production. “Am I being too loud?” I asked. “Yes,” she said and never spoke another word. Nor did she cheer or applaud. The rest of us, however, did. The rest of us whooped it up all night. How could we not when faced with people doing the insane and the impossible?
Paramour is a thinly disguised excuse to put these gymnasts/dancers on the stage. Noted. The story is a combination of every old plot you can shake a stick at. AJ (Jeremy Kushner) a film producer back in the day discovers his next star Indigo (Ruby Lewis) singing in a night club. He takes her on, along with her composer Joey (Ryan Vona). Indigo becomes an instant, and totally exhausted, star. AJ becomes a possessive maniac. Joey pines away. Until it is all made right and the kid gets the girl with the blessings of the looser. The end.
What happens along the way is some seriously astonishing choreography and acrobatics. This is the kind of stuff that makes you think, “I bet I could do that,” because these people make it look effortless. And even fun. The stand outs would be Andrew and Kevin Atherton, twins who have been with the Cirque du Soleil for over 16 years. They are billed as arial strap artists. After watching them for about 5 minutes you get the impression that the only thing holding them onto the ground is gravity. They fit into the air like beings with invisible wings. The trio of Martin Charrat, Myriam DeRaiche and Samuel William Chaarlton envelope the stage as they present the love triangle with DeRaiche being stretched between them. She moves like silk from one to the other, and travels vertically from the ground to the rafters depending only on strength and balance.
There ain’t no net here, folks.
For some reason there are scenes that lack any justification, such as when Indigo moves through a series of costume changes that mimic icons movie posters. As well there is a sort of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers that serves only to introduce the gymnasts. Indeed there seems to have been a bit of over thinking with this story. This is unfortunate because everyone on that stage is bringing their “A- Game” – and they are a formidable collection of talent. In addition, this is a slightly more mature group of performers than some I have seen at other Cirque shows. Their seasoned approach adds to their grace.
So take off your judgement glasses and have a good time. Whoop it up, and hope that you are not seated next to the same dour woman who shared my row. But if you are, whoop it up anyway. I hear that happiness is contagious. Most of the time.
PS – The Lyric was the same theatre where Spiderman tried to take flight. Too bad they didn’t have this cast.
Is Paramour brilliant? Not quite. Did I have a great time – you betcha. Stay tuned – up next is Cirque du Soleil’s The Wiz.
PARAMOUR – directed by French stage director and choreographer Philippe Decouflé.
WITH Jeremy Kushnier as A.J., the director; Ruby Lewis as Indigo, the starlet; and Ryan Vona as Joey, the composer.
Along with Decouflé, the creative team includes West Hyler (associate creative director and scene director),Shana Carroll (associate creative director and acrobatic designer & choreographer), Pascale Henrot (associate creative director), Bob & Bill (composers), Andreas Carlsson (lyricist and co-composer), Jean Rabasse (set designer), Philippe Guillotel (costume designer), Daphné Mauger (choreographer), Patrice Besombes (lighting designer), Olivier Simola & Christophe Waksmann (projection designers), John Shivers (sound designer), Boris Verkhovsky (acrobatic performance designer), Pierre Masse (rigging and acrobatic equipment designer), Nathalie Gagné (makeup designer), Anne‐Séguin Poirier (props designer), Josh Marquette (hair design), Cirque du Soleil (casting – Montreal), Telsey + Co (casting – New York), Seth Stachowski (music director and band leader) and Jayna Neagle (executive producer). Jean-François Bouchard (creative guide and creative director),
CAST: Bret Shuford, Sarah Meahl, Kat Cunning, Tom Ammirati, Andrew Atherton, Kevin Atherton, Lee Brearley, Yanelis Brooks, Samuel William Charlton, Martin Charrat, Nate Cooper, Myriam Deraiche, Kyle Driggs, Jeremias Faganel, Amber Brooke Fulljames, Steven Trumon Gray, Tomasz Jadach, Rafal Kaszubowski, Reed Kelly, Denis Kibenko, Joe McAdam, Raven McRae, Amber J. Merrick, Sheridan Mouawad, Amber Pickens, Justin Prescott, Fletcher Blair Sanchez, Matthieu Sennacherib, Blakely Slaybaugh, Sam Softich, Amiel Soicher, Amber van Wijk, Bruce Weber, Tomasz Wilkosz, Zhengqi Xia (Da Qi).
Tickets for Cirque du Soleil – PARAMOUR are on sale now via Ticketmaster.com or by calling 877-250-2929 and at the Lyric Theatre Box Office (213 West 42nd Street). Ticket prices range from $55- $149 (all prices include a $2.50 facility fee).