Luzia enchants and amazes
Cirque du Soleil’s latest celebrates Mexico
By Byron Toben
Montréal’s own Cirque du Soleil is the largest theatrical producer in the world. Starting as a gleam in the eyes of two rural Quebec street performers, Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix in 1980, it was officially created in 1984.
Surviving growing pains in the 1980s (with critical Canadian and Quebec government support), it finally morphed into a colossus In the 1990s and 2000s, with 19 shows in over 271 cities, employing some 4,000 people from 40 countries and grossing about US $810 million per year. It is estimated that over 90 million people have seen a Cirque show.
After winning tons of artistic awards, 90% of its ownership was acquired a year ago by an investment group including the Caisse de dépot et placement du Quebec.
Its uniqueness stems from having constant music throughout the shows as well as constant movement by performers. In addition to performers engaging the audience directly, the shows always include a clown as a sort of everyman character to further involve the audience.
Montréal’s own Cirque du Soleil is the largest theatrical producer in the world. It is estimated that over 90 million people have seen a Cirque show.
In Luzia, that individual was a tourist flying to Mexico, who parachutes out of an airplane with a parachute that doesn’t open. No matter that air swimming doesn’t work either, but an umbrella saves the day! He lands safely in a field of 5000 real marigolds, watered by short tin men… a cross between the one in OZ and R2-D2. A giant Monarch butterfly swarms into view, accompanied by a dozen hummingbirds followed by a running girl and a giant armoured horse.
This just warms up the audience… all 2500 of them in the giant tent… for a cavalcade of aerial artists and gymnasts swinging from ropes and springing into hoops. In the meantime, our tourist, sort of a cross between Chaplin and Mr Bean, endures a rainstorm, fights off a prickly cactus, and leads segments of the audience in cheers. A live band wanders about… accordion, tuba, drum, castanets… and two full-bodied Spanish singers interject rousing solos. A spectacular contortionist contributes, his supple body remindful of the old comic strip character Plasticman.
In a group football number, the skills dribbling the ball should encourage Montreal Impact scouts to take a look. And Olympic gymnasts can’t hold a candle to the Cirque ladies hurtling thru space from one giant swing to another and landing after double twirls with perfect sticking precision.
You also watch a superior juggler, but no fire-eaters… Guy Laliberte’s specialty way back in those 1980 days of dreams and hopes.
Luzia continues at the huge tent at the Old Port, Quay Jacques Cartier until July 17.
For tickets go to cirquedusoleil.com or call 1-877-924-7783.
Images: courtesy of Cirque du Soleil, 2016
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club