It’s disappointing to see a company that usually performs its function so well shift away from its brand. That’s what Cirque du Soleil has done with its production of Banana Shpeel at the Beacon Theatre, making the mistake of focusing on narrative rather than acrobatic spectacle, which has become synonymous with the company. It’s the equivalent of Coca-Cola delving into interior decorating. You make a great drink, but stay away from my living room!
Banana Shpeel is Cirque’s attempted redefinition of Vaudeville. A sort of show within a show, Shpeel is run by a tyrant of a producer, Marty Schmelky (played by The Lion King’s Danny Rutigliano with such Danny DeVito bluster that the Hollywood actor should sue). Accompanied by two dull stagehands (Daniel Passer and Wayne Wilson) and a personal assistant (Shereen Hickman, the only presence with genuine pizzazz), Schmelky unnecessarily presents Read more