BWW Review: Suspended Cirque Presents SWINGIN' AT JACK'S
Suspended Cirque has taken trapeeze performance and integrated it with acrobatics, music, dance, theater, and circus to create a new blend of entrancing entertainment. With Swingin' At Jacks, the group time-travels back to 1949, taking the audience with them to Jack's Place which is, of course, the hottest spot in town. Two lovely cigarette girls (Angela Jones and Kristn Olness) make their rounds through the patrons, encouraging us to buy cocktails and selling us candy cigarettes. As they gossip about one another and collect tips, the stagehand (Joshua Dean) arranges the sets and ties wires on stage; the show has not yet begun and you are already in the middle of their act.
Suspended Cirque has found the perfect location in which to hold their show. Galapagos Art Space is a 9,000 sq ft venue, used for various cultural shows and exhibits. It is a certified green space, catering to the young artist crowd that has begun to dominate DUMBO and the surrounding areas. The best and most unusual feature of Galapagos is that it has a 1600 sq ft lake inside the building. An island of seating rests over the lake which is connected to winding pathways and banisters. The space is illuminated by candles and low red lighting and the enormous stage is backed by a giant exposed wooden wall. With two bars (one upstairs and one downstairs,) as well as attentive table service, Galapagos Art Space is one of the best and most unusual venues in which to catch a small show.
After everyone is seated and offered drinks from the bar our host Jack (Ben Franklin) takes the stage and introduces his cast and band. All of the performances are accompanied by Peter "Keys" Daniels and his band. Utilizing a piano, trumpet, trombone, drum, and bass, the band immediately captures the 1940s era of Swingin' At Jack's, blasting out familiar old tunes with great skill. Victoria Lecta Cave (Vicky Lee) lends her sultry vocals to most of the songs, complimenting the tunes and the high wire acts without overpowering or distracting from them.
The most breathtaking parts of the show are, of course, the fabulous high-flying acts, which are performed along with the live music. The members of Suspended Cirque work their multi-talented butts off singing, dancing, and acting, so when you realize that they are also fully capable of twisting on ropes while suspended from the ceiling, well, it is just too cool. The whole cast is involved with the high wire acts; those same cigarette girls are suddenly above your head, twisting and twirling in sexy cabaret outfits. How a person can casually smile at the audience while also hanging with a thick rope wrapped around the back of their head, I will never know.
One of the most talented ladies in the show is Michelle Dortignac, who plays the club's manager Anna Clicquot. Her movements while up on the high wire are graceful and precise; it is impossible to take your eyes off of her small and flexible form. One of the best acts is called "Girls Out On A Limb". During this number all three ladies take to the trapeze, swinging in unison or succession, holding on to one another for vital support. I can't even imagine the strength it takes to hold
yourself up on a rope while also holding another woman by your ankles, but they do it with ease.
While the women in the show are beautiful and talented, it is the men who really work themselves to the limit. Ben Franklin plays our host Jack Jameson, Jr, introducing the routines and acting as the glue that connects each performance. He moves about the space with ease, on stage one minute and up in the balcony the next. He, too, takes his turn up on the trapeze, stretching and twisting with the best of them. But when it comes down to acrobatic skills, no one steals the scene like Joshua Dean. As the stagehand FRed Walker, Dean is virtually silent throughout the show. Yet, once he takes his turn in the spotlight, it is easy to see why he has the power to remain silent. Dean balances on a giant red ball while juggling, climbs ropes in a flash, and hangs every which way from the trapeze, all while looking happy and calm. He is the perfect addition to a show where most of the characters interact with the audience on a constant basis; Dean shines purely based on his athletic and acrobatic skill.
Swingin' At Jacks' provides the ideal mix of circus, theater, live music, and alcohol. The price is right, and the show is just long enough to act as your Sunday night's main event or as a great starter to a longer evening.
Suspended Cirque's Swingin' At Jack's Aerial Circus Cabaret is set to run every Sunday in April at 8pm at Galapagos Art Space, located at 16 Main St. DUMBO, Brooklyn. Tickets are $25 Adult/ $20 Student, Union, or if outfitted in a 40s Costume. For tickets visit www.galapagosartspace.com