Cirque du Soleil has swooped back into New York in its second attempt to mount a successful semi-permanent show—Zarkana at Radio City Music Hall. After the financial and critical disaster that was last year’s Banana Shpeel at the Beacon Theater, the new spectacle, which opened Wednesday night, shows signs of many lessons learned.
Banana Shpeel spun a ridiculous “who cares?” tale of a grouchy circus ringleader who’s had a bee in his bonnet for decades because of a past romance gone sour. The irritating plot left little stage time for the incredible contortionists, jugglers, and hand balancers that the audience had paid money to see. In Zarkana, a magician named Zark (get where the title comes from?) has lost his love and his magical powers. (Dude, bummer.) He spends the show lamenting about it in dramatic, rock-opera numbers, but leaves the stage for significant chunks of time, allowing the amazing soldiers of Cirque to do their thing. Less story, yes; but I could have done without Zark and his sad-sack story completely. Why does Cirque du Soleil feel so compelled to add narrative to their New York shows? Is it the presence of Broadway that makes them feel they need to compete? Broadway shows and Cirque-du-Soleil eye orgasms are apples and oranges. Cirque, leave the storytelling to Sondheim—show us the wow.
And Zarkana does deliver on the wow factor. The show kicks off with a perfect appetizer—a juggling act, which is small enough in scale, but kicks into a whirlwind of high-speed coordination that was enough to make my palms sweat. Next up is a gorgeous and romantic aerial duet, in which the male and female performers fly around the expansive stage entangled in a hanging rope. The rest of Act I includes some fun tightrope walkers, but doesn’t astonish. The true breathtaking moments of Zarkana are saved for the second act. Read more
- Word association with Wonderland‘s Kate Shindle
- Acrobats tumble at Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana press event
- Win a pair of tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Is Kate Shindle the perfect combination of beauty and humor? Do you think Zarkana is going to be one of Cirque du Soleil’s best shows, or another Banana Shpeel? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and have a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend!
Coming off the heels of the flop that was Banana Shpeel, which ran just over a month at the Beacon Theatre last year, the Cirque du Soleil company would not want to see the performers of their highly-anticipated new production flopping on safety nets. Yet that is what happened at a press preview Tuesday at Radio City Music Hall for the new show Zarkana. Four times, performers in the acrobatic-heavy show fell off their trapeze and onto the net below.
“We all have bad days,” Zarkana’s creative director Line Tremblay said when she took the stage for a set of scheduled announcements from the Cirque du Soleil creative team. Tremblay appeared visibly embarrassed by the four falls, but writer/director Francois Girard followed her more confidently. “A few drops in the net is not going to stop us from showing you the best trapeze act,” Girard said.
The production still has some time to tighten its act—previews begin June 9 with the show set to open June 29. It is scheduled to run through October 8.
Aside from the four tumbles, which created a palpable awkwardness in the bowels of Radio City’s house, the sneak preview pf Cirque du Soleil’s newest creation was mildly exciting. When they weren’t falling, the acrobats made my stomach churn with their great leaps high above the stage. (It did no favors to my tummy, however, when they fell.) Read more
The national spotlight that such Broadway veterans as Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, and Jonathan Groff are receiving due to the hit show Glee makes the news and events of the Fox show a direct interest of Stage Rush and its readers. Rusher and Glee fan Irina Gonzalez attended the Saturday Glee Live concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and reported from the fan-crazed scene.
There wasn’t a single warm seat in the house Saturday night—that’s what happens when an entire show becomes a standing ovation. The kids of Glee delivered fun and entertainment in their Glee Live tour, which hit New York this weekend.
Starting off the show was the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, the dance troupe of cast member Harry Shum Jr. There was a lot of jumping and break dancing for the mostly-male cast, and a huge round of applause as Shum, aka Mike “Other Asian” Chang, came on stage at the end for a “idle shoes” inspired dance sequence which sent the audience to its feet for the first time that night. The LXD ended the show sans Shum to a standing ovation.
After a 30-minute intermission, Jane Lynch came on a screen to welcome the Gleeks to Radio City Music Hall as her alter ego Sue Sylvester. “Hello, suckers!” was her opening line, greeting everyone as “idiots” and having McKinley High cheerleaders pass out “barf bags” through the audience. Matthew Morrison then stepped in to introduce the kids of New Directions as they opened the show with their biggest hit, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”. Read more
Kym, my date, and I arrived at Radio City Music Hall at 6 p.m. We had butterflies in our stomachs and were laughing because it wasn’t like we were nominated or performing. As we lingered around the entrance at 6th Ave and 50th St, trying to figure out how to approach entering, Best Featured Actor in a Play nominee John Glover from Waiting For Godot passed by. We twiddled our thumbs for a few more minutes, waiting to cross paths with more arriving celebrities, but soon decided we better find the commoners entrance and start making our way in. The entrance line for regular ticket holders stretched nearly around the entire block. We waited in line and felt the discriminating eyes of the tourists parked on Rockefeller Center benches meandering over our outfits. As we crawled toward the security check, we saw Heidi Blickenstaff from [title of show], accompanied by Christopher J. Hanke. As we entered the venue, we realized that Heidi had to enter the same way we did—which we felt extremely bad about. The girl was not only in a Tony-nominated show, but she was also Ursula in The Little Mermaid! [title of show] just gets no respect (which we realized again during the ceremony). Read more