BWW Review: SENSATIA at Quixotic Theater
"Sensatia," the Cirque Cabaret, is an incredible journey through multiple entertainment genres . The adult, ninety-minute presentation is immersive, erotic, surprising, and unlike any other experiential performance you are likely to enjoy. It takes place in a long neglected and exceptional corner of Crown Center, the newly reopened Quixotic Theater. Locals will recall it as the former home of the American Heartland Theater.
"Sensatia" is "Cirque Nouveau." It crashes through previously sacrosanct walls separating circus, classical dance, classical music, jazz, burlesque, and gymnastics. These disciplines burst into an integrated whole before your eyes along with a pallet of moving images and coordinated light. Stitching together this unusual panoply are two, most unusual, instrumental musicians (an amazing violinist and an exceptional cellist) and a brassy, blazing red-haired ringmaster / torch singer/comedienne with a booming cabaret voice.
"Sensatia" is an intimate experience. Performers in skimpy attire appear everywhere in the 300 seat theater. The show may not be appropriate for very young audience members. Some audience members sit at cabaret tables directly adjacent to the stage.
The base conceit imagines a relationship between a costumed Pierrot-style violinist and a prima ballerina. A second, similarly attired musician, the cellist, carries his electronic instrument with him and treats it (at times) as if it were a flamenco guitar. Don't think of these music makers as pit musicians. Think of them as characters in the drama happening all around you. These guys are exceptional.
From the notion of the musician - dancer relationship spins up a corps de ballet, circus acts of many sorts display tremendous strength and balance, multiple lovely aerial interludes, fire dancers, fan dancers, and the brassy torch singer.
Integrated throughout are carefully choreographed to moving image dance sequences and cirque acts that somehow fit with the rest of the performance. A huge spinning ring is manipulated by a male acrobat. Strength balancing is so close to the audience, you will be amazed and a little frightened by how near the action is to you. A gymnast who must have been a still rings champion performs near the beginning of the performance. Female aerialists dance at intervals above the stage.
This is immersive. Everything is very, very close. It is loud. It is exhausting. It is an experience not to be missed.
One musician or actor or another may turn up suddenly at your elbow or anywhere else in the theater. A dancer may appear close enough to make you sweat. Aerialists above the stage may swing over the audience's head. Projections and lasers are too much for any individual to take in at a single viewing. The red-haired ringmaster/singer/ comedienne could address you directly. The audience is always part and parcel of the show.
The author of this "one- off" feast for the senses is a fifteen-year-old Kansas City company called Quixotic Fusion. Located in the Crossroads area, the company has spent the last decade and a half traveling the world producing industrial shows that amaze. All this time, they have experimented and expanded their vision of what can be. Local audiences will remember their stunning exhibits that used the Kauffman Center shell as a canvas and the Union Station exterior to celebrate that building's hundredth anniversary.
Founder of this particular feast is Creative Director Anthony Magliano and Executive Producer Mica Thomas. "Sensatia" was created as a residency show for a Miami Beach hotel. It got rave reviews.
According to Executive Producer Thomas, this new Kansas City residency fulfills a long dreamed desire to provide Quixotic Fusion type entertainment on a continuing basis to Kansas City friends and visitors. Depending on local acceptance, the currently scheduled residence through the end of November could be extended. "No two performances will be exactly the same," he said.
Guest jazz performers already scheduled include Calvin Arsenia, Ernest Melton, Kadesh Flow and Lily Carassik.
"Sensatia" performs at the "Quixotic Theater" inside Crown Center ever Friday and Saturday through at least the end of November. Full bar service is available.
Tickets can be purchased through the Sensatia website www.sensatiakc.com or by telephone at 816.221.6987.
Photos courtesy of Quixotic Fusion.