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Review Roundup: ZARKANA

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Last night, June 29, Cirque du Soleil opened its major new acrobatic spectacle, Zarkana, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Performances began Thursday, June 9, 2011 for a limited engagement through October 8, 2011. Presented by iShares, Zarkana is written and directed by acclaimed film and theatre director François Girard (The Red Violin, Silk).

Zarkana is an acrobatic rock opera that blends circus arts with the surreal to create a world where physical virtuosity rubs shoulders with the strange. The story follows Zark, a magician who has lost his powers - and the love of his life - in an abandoned theatre populated by a motley collection of off-the-wall characters and incomparable acrobats. He runs into the Mutants, four sirens as sinister as they are fabulous, who are determined to divert him from his quest.

Tickets range from $47 to $130 with a limited number of premium tickets available for all performances. For tickets, call 1-866-858-0008 or on-line at www.cirquedusoleil.com/zarkana or at www.ticketmaster.com.

Charles Isherwood, NY Times: What remains appealing about Cirque du Soleil shows is this emphasis on the human ability to create excitement from sheer physical prowess and perfectly drilled gymnastic feats. Even the Italian corps of flag-throwers, while hardly the most physically perilous of acts, won my admiration for the grace and skill with which they fling their batons aloft, creating dizzying patterns that suggest swarms of butterflies moving with the grace of champion synchronized swimmers.

Matt Windman, AM New York: "Zarkana," a new $50 million Cirque du Soleil spectacle, manages to make "Spider-Man" - which also has a pop-rock score, a female spider character and an actor catapulted over the audience - look somewhat good by comparison.

Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom: While the acrobats do their thing - and wow, do they ever - more than a dozen clown-mime types, often clad in ghostly white costumes that identify them as characters (dying swan ballerina, mad scientist, manic swami, etc.), scramble around in the background. They clamber across spider webs and cavort through crazy funeral processions. Yes, expect a Cirque show done in its patented spooky mode.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: Overall, this may not be the homerun that Cirque was hoping for. The show, which leaves for Moscow and Madrid in October and hopes to return to New York next summer, seems to suffer from franchise fatigue. There's nothing gasp-worthy here for a jaded city where Broadway is just a few blocks away. Few veterans of Cirque will be stunned.

Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: Even though there's always something to look at, the wow! factor comes and goes like a traveling salesman. The acts, while polished, are mostly familiar. But after their vapid variety show "Banana Shpeel" and wan "Wintuk" for kids, it is heartening to see a solid work by Cirque.

Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: When "Zarkana" gets down to the business of stopping our hearts for a few beats, it's awesome. Trapeze artists soar, tightrope walkers precariously pile on top of one another, two brothers defy gravity on what appears to be the world's biggest Wheel-O. There's also some deadly clowning.

David Rooney, Reuters: All these acts show remarkable precision, concentration and discipline. The most beautiful of them are two Chinese rope aerialists and a superb group of trapeze artists, mainly from Russia and the Ukraine, who appear oblivious to the laws of gravity. Those graceful balletic interludes are sufficiently captivating to block out the freak-show frou-frou happening elsewhere onstage, but it's a challenge.

 

Photo Credit: Walter McBride

 

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