Review: Cirque du Soleil fabulously fuses ice and circus
In a weekend when we finally have spring, Cirque du Soleil sweeps us back to the beauty of winter in their magical and mystical show "Crystal." The audience at Amsoil Arena is treated to a performance of jaw-dropping acrobatics, skating and state-of-the-art technology, unlike anything area audiences have ever seen.
This inaugural Cirque show on ice provided a whole new boundary-blurring dimension to their ever-imaginative, over-the-top spectacles, this time in a tour with a cast and crew of over 90 people from all over the world.
Cirque is known for their pre-show entertainment. "Crystal" features a fun mix of a clown carrying on a snowball fight with the audience (with real snowballs), a small Klezmer band and elegant skaters warming up on the ice.
The show tells the story of Crystal, a red-haired-misfit-sort-of-Disney-princess type, who doesn't fit in anywhere she goes. When she flees from the claustrophobic confines of her life and ventures out on thin ice, it cracks, plunging her into a whirling freefall to the depths of the icy waters.
In this exaggerated upside-down world, Crystal finds her alter-ego, Reflection, who takes her on a warped tour of her memories of the family living room, a playground, a school room, an office, and the big city — all skewed to be larger than life. In each place, Crystal learns to expand her own imagination, creativity and voice to help her find her own true identity.
Each new scene gives the opportunity for amazing displays from a variety of master performers, including world-class skaters and gymnasts. Combining multiple disciplines, they perform incredible synchronized and extreme skating, swinging trapeze, aerial straps, balancing acts, and pole-to-pole leaping, in a variety of gymnastic styles.
A theatrical hockey game ends Act I with an incredible show of gravity-defying jumps on huge ramps from the colorfully clad team of hockey players. When Crystal skated into the middle of this wild hockey pinball game sporting a UMD Bulldogs jersey, well, let's just say the crowd went wild.
Usually the Cirque music is all original to the production and performed completely live. The talented Klezmer performers did play throughout "Crystal" but there was also a mix of taped covers of pop songs such as Sia's "Chandelier" and Beyonce's "Halo." The soundscape of music sets the tone perfectly for each section of the show from darkly atmospheric to romantic.
Incredible projections on the ice and on the quartz "castle" structure upstage become almost another character, displaying flashbacks of Crystal's life and enhancing the various locales of her imaginative underwater adventures, some with stunning interactive effects.
In a performance of oohs, ahhs, gasps and squeals of delight, both the children and adults in the audience came away with visions in their heads of the unique, phantasmagorical worlds that only Cirque du Soleil can provide.
Sheryl Jensen is a former teacher, magazine editor and director. She reviews theater for the News Tribune.
If you go
What: Cirque du Soleil's "Crystal"
Where: Amsoil Arena
When: April 20 at 7:30 p.m.; April 21 at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Tickets: $44.50 and up depending on seating location — DECC Ticket office (218) 722-4247 or at ticketmaster.com