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BWW Review: CIRQUE DU SOLEIL'S CRYSTAL at Capital One Arena

BWW Review: CIRQUE DU SOLEIL'S CRYSTAL at Capital One Arena
The company of Cirque Du Soleil's Crystal. Photo by Matt Beard.

For many years now, the famed Cirque du Soleil has been combining the two worlds of circus and theater to create some spectacular productions. Anyone that has seen one of their shows in Las Vegas or elsewhere knows that when you attend a Cirque production, it's an unforgettable experience. Cirque has repurposed the music of The Beatles, taken us to a spectacular jungle world and elsewhere in their past productions, but with their latest touring show Crystal the company adds ice skating to their repertoire. Combining traditional circus skills with breathtaking ramp jumps, break dancing, show skating and much more Crystal is not your typical Cirque du Soleil production. It takes place entirely on an ice rink, but for those that remember it, this is not your standard Ice Capades by any stretch of the imagination either.

All of us at one point or another don't know how we fit in and feel like our creativity might be going to waste. Crystal is one such young lady. She is made fun of in school, sits alone at lunch and on her school bus, and is constantly ignored by her family. Her head is usually in the clouds.

Like something out of Alice in Wonderland, one day Crystal goes to a frozen pond to get away from her life for a bit. When the ice breaks Crystal's world is literally turned upside down as she sees a reflection of herself in the water. As she follows her reflection all of Crystal's creative juices really start to flow. It is her creations that make up the rest of the show and what creations they are. There are things like Crystal being at the center of an amazing hockey game featuring a very tricky hockey puck and her as the referee. There is also a scene with her taking an office job. I guarantee your officemates can't do some of the things the people in this office can. Crystal also creates a courtship scene in which she wonders if she will ever find the right person for herself. All of this and more helps to show Crystal her true power so she can return to reality - including her family - with a new outlook on things.

As you might have guessed, the skating elements play a big part in this production and Cirque very wisely hired people with years of high-level experience to create the skating for Crystal. Skating Performances Senior Designer Kurt Browning is a four-time World Figure Skating Champion and four-time Canadian national champion. His partner on this venture, Skating Performance Designer Benjamin Agosto, is a 2006 Olympic silver medalist, a four-time World medalist, the 2004-2006 Four Continents champion, and 2004-2008 U.S. champion. He achieved all of this with his ice dance partner Tanith Belbin. The synchronized skating elements were designed by Marilyn Langlois.

The performers are wearing three different kinds of skates in the show - figure skates, ice dance skates, and hockey skates.

BWW Review: CIRQUE DU SOLEIL'S CRYSTAL at Capital One Arena
Part of the totally ramped up hockey game sequence from Cirque Du Soleil's Crystal. Photo by Matt Beard.

Of the many production numbers, a few really standout as true highlights. The first is the playground section, in which Crystal creates the hockey game. Here, acrobats do all kinds of jumps and twists off of a series of ramps - all while on skates. This effectively turns the playground into a big pinball machine. It definitely ends the first act with a bang.

Another standout section is when Crystal turns a sterile office environment into something wonderful. With lots of synchronized skating - and a spotlight on an Olympic figure skater (2011 Canadian national silver medalist and three-time Canadian national bronze medalist Shawn Sawyer) - you will never see your officemates in the same light ever again. The chair balancing section, performed by an acrobat, at the end will leave you awestruck.

BWW Review: CIRQUE DU SOLEIL'S CRYSTAL at Capital One Arena
Crystal on her trapeze while her reflection looks on in foreground in Cirque Du Soleil's Crystal. Photo by Matt Beard.

The beauty of traditional figure skating is combined with trapeze art as Crystal takes to the heights while wearing skates. It's the first time anyone has done this in a Cirque show. While Crystal is on her trapeze her reflection joins her below on the ice for a gorgeous skating routine.

Those are just some of the scenes that make this Cirque show like no other. However, there are other elements that add to the enjoyment as well.

Music is always a part of any Cirque production and here Klezmer, pop rock, and more styles are utilized to full advantage. The original music is composed by Maxim Lepage.

The lighting by Éric Champoux turns the Capital One Arena into a winter wonderland with many moving lights that can turn virtually any color possible.

Marie Chantale Vaillancourt's costumes assure that the performers can skate and move with grace and ease.

Johnny Ranger's video content provides an array of visible textures. In this case all the projection serves the show to full potential.

Directors Shana Carroll and Sébastien Soldevila helm the production to great success as they meld the many worlds of skating, theater, and circus into one cohesive and brilliant looking package.

Cirque Du Soleil's Crystal is one of those shows that is a truly unique experience for many reasons. For those who have not been to a figure skating event before, this is the perfect introduction to get you in the mood for nationals and worlds. If you are a big fan of Cirque Du Soleil, Crystal will make you say "Yes they can create genius on skates." Are you really surprised?

Running Time: Two hours and ten minutes with one intermission.

Crystal runs through December 9, 2018 at Capital One Arena, located at 601 F St NW, Washington, DC. For tickets, click here.

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