BWW Review: Cirque du Soleil's Glorious New Showpiece LUZIA: A WAKING DREAM OF MEXICO
Though the world-famous 35-year-old Montreal-based entertainment troupe Cirque du Soleil has never been known for making political statements with their extravaganzas of culture and athleticism - and while the timing is undoubtedly just coincidental - one can't help at least a passing thought of how appropriate it is to have their glorious new showpiece, LUZIA: A WAKING DREAM OF MEXICO, on tour during a time when America's president continually attempts to villainize our southern neighbor.
Directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, who co-authored the fun with his late wife Julie Hamelin Finzi (mourned as an innovative pioneer of contemporary circus arts), LUZIA makes its temporary New York residence in a cozy big top pitched in the parking lot of Citi Field. With the audience seated nearly completely in the round, turntables offer views of many acts from numerous close-up angles.
With its name incorporating the Spanish word for light, the pageantry of LUZIA combines traditional costuming and settings with phantasmagoric variations. The closest the evening gets to something resembling a plot is when clown Fool Koller opens the festivities by parachuting down and turning a large wind-up key sticking out from the stage. You might say this sets everything in motion, as the space is soon taken over by an enormous galloping stallion, the highlight of Max Humphries' puppet designs, and a gorgeously winged monarch butterfly, created by costume designer Giovanna Buzzi.
But while the visual elements are all top-notch, it's the spectacular displays of athleticism and physical artistry that's going to inspire crowds to hop on the 7 train while the gang's in town. As is their custom, Cirque du Soleil fills the show with an impressive array of tumblers, leapers and flyers, including some real showstoppers.
Bare-chested aerialist Stephen Brine wows the crowd performing lifts and dives with a pair of hanging straps, sometimes whipping his long hair into a small pool of water below. Cyr Wheel performers Rosa Tyyska and Nora Zoller spin through a curtain of rain pouring onto the stage, while Enya White does the same from a trapeze above.
Contortionist Aleksei Goloborodko bends his body into gasp-inducing shapes and juggler Cylios Pytlak handles silver pins at such lightning-fast speed that you might expect electric sparks.
Though the theme is Mexican, the talent is international and world class, making LUZIA a terrific entertainment for both families and a night on the town.