“That’s incredible!” “Awesome!” Hearing your child squeal with delight is always a thrill for a parent, but, truthfully, my daughter didn’t have to say anything. The look on her face, mouth open wide and eyes the size of ping pong balls, made it clear that this was going to be a night to remember. Cirque du Soleil’s acrobats flying through the air in their spectacular costumes is an incredible sight to behold for parents and kids alike. Their latest production, Kurios- Cabinet of Curiosities, is a magical evening of entertainment, not to be missed.
Big Top Extravaganza
We saw Kurious in a traditional big top circus, set up just outside Chicago’s United Center, the stadium that’s home to the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks, just west of the downtown “Loop.” Although it takes place under a classic blue and yellow striped big top, this in not your grandpa’s circus… not unless your grandpa was Salvador Dali or some other surreal artist.
I know they’ve been thrilling crowds for decades in Vegas, but this was our first time seeing the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil. I liken it to a family-friendly cabaret. I felt transported to an avante garde European nightclub in a different era… early 1900’s Berlin perhaps? The costumes and set design are elaborately rich steam punk style… meaning they celebrate the industrial revolution, while still honoring history with classic Victorian materials and dress. It was absolute eye candy. It was often
hard to know exactly where to look on the stage, as there were so many incredible things happening at once. I might look at the juggler, then find myself distracted by the costume on the neighboring character, or the sounds coming from the incredible singer. The delights just never seemed to end. Know how sometimes you find yourself squirming or uncomfortable in your chair at the theater? There was not a minute of that, not one second where you were thinking, “How much longer is this show?”
The circus’ French flare is tres magnifique with classic mimes, a live band and a chanteuse singing Klezmer-style tunes that were a fantastic accompaniment to the production. Celebrating the industrial revolution and the dawn of automation, the show starts with a steam locomotive roaring through. That train traveling along the stage is a theme that runs through the production. A flying contraption pays homage to the early days of aviation. Then other automated anomalies signal the advent of technology that will change our lives and our world, in ways unimaginable when the Wright Brothers first set off in their flying machine.
Kids seemed to love the spirit of invention this production celebrates. Delicate mechanical oddities appearing throughout the performance brought gasps from the audience that nearly rivaled the gasps and wild cheers during the stellar acrobatic displays. An elaborately costumed friendly robot was one of my daughter’s favorite. I found myself beguiled the whimsical man who would open the cabinet of curiosities on his own body to reveal a tiny woman, who essentially seemed like she was part of a music box. Antanina Satsura of Belarus is the talented dwarf who elegantly weaves her way through the production. The show truly feels like you are sitting in a a surreal Salvador Dali painting. The colors are so rich and the events that are happening seem absolutely impossible, as hypnotic as Dali’s mind-boggling paintings.
Yes, the costumes and set design are bewildering and will hold your attention, but it’s the acrobats who really throw you for a loop, pardon the pun. High-flying trapeze artists somersaulting their way through eye-popping routines while aeronautical artists launch themselves into the air off of a massive trampoline that takes up the entire stage.
My favorite acrobats were the three female contortionists whose costumes transform them into some sort of unimaginable, fantastical sea creature. The entire evening was mind blowing, for a seven year-old as well as her mama, and that doesn’t happen too often.
Kurios- Cabinet of Curiosities
when: through September 20th
where: the Big Top beside the United Center, 1901 W. Madison
Tickets: $35- $145
Family Discount available for 3 or more tickets
Run time: 2 hours and 25 minutes with one intermission
After Chicago, Kurios- Cabinet of Curiosities heads to:
Costa Mesa, CA- opens on October 15, 2015
Los Angeles, CA- opens on December 10, 2015
Atlanta, GA- opens in 2016