Reviewed by PDX Family Scott and Kristen Corwin – Saturday April 7, 2012
If you have never seen a Cirque du Soleil show, then it may be time for you to try this unique entertainment experience. The new show, Ovo, is in town playing under the “Big Top” tent at the Portland Expo Center through May 20th. Those who have seen past Cirque shows will find that this new production builds on the qualities they have grown to expect, including beautiful sets, soaring live music, mind bending physical feats, and ample comic relief.
The appeal of Cirque du Soleil starts with gasp-rending moments when a collective “I can’t believe I just saw that!” arises from the tent. This show has plenty. There is the troupe of ant-costumed acrobats who juggle giant kiwi slices, and sometimes each other, solely with their feet. There are the trapeze artists launching themselves into spinning, twisting blurs before landing thirty feet away in perfect handstands. And, in a nod to modern extreme sports, the show’s trampoline finale involves a complex sequence that is purely breathtaking. A host of acrobats on multiple trampolines built into the stage perform daring tumbling runs and huge aerials while using a three story high climbing wall to drop in and out of the action. The result is a well choreographed flying dance, that taps skateboarding, snowboarding, gymnastics, and freestyle ski jumping moves in a way that would leave the toughest teen audience spellbound.
This Quebec company has been amazing audiences since 1984 with an entertaining blend of acrobatic circus acts, music, dance, and design. The new show’s theme is built around life in the insect world, with the “Ovo” (egg in Portuguese) playing a prominent role. The sets and costumes bolstering this theme don’t disappoint. Massive flowers open from high above the stage, and spider webs provide a compelling backdrop and acrobatic platform. Colorful insects abound in a flurry of creative expression, while beautifully appointed crickets, ants and other invertebrates perform amazing feats to the rhythmic sounds of Brazilian-based music performed with soul by a live band.
While the tent looks large from the outside, the setting is actually quite intimate. There are 2600 people at each show, and the top row of seating is only about 20 feet higher than the stage. The uplifting and energetic bug theme makes this a relatively kid friendly Cirque show. And, there are some nice touches for kids, such as providing top notch booster cushions for visibility. At the 8 PM show, however, the audience was mostly adults with a sprinkling of children. While the two and a half hour length (including a 30 minute intermission) may be a lot for younger children, the action, music, magnificent artistry, and theatrical clowning provides broad enough appeal to mesmerize any member of the family.
Tickets for OVO are still available for purchase here.