Because it’s on my mind, because I’m an inveterate list-keeper, and because I’m afraid I’ll forget, here are the Cirque du Soleil shows I’ve seen:
Dralion — Cirque du Soleil came to Philadelphia for the first time in October 2001, and I was there. I remember the post-9/11 security warning we were given in the Grand Chapiteau, and I remember being completely taken with the show. I think The Ex enjoyed himself, too.
Alegria — The Ex and I saw this in July 2004. I think this was Cirque’s third visit to Philadelphia. (I somehow missed Varekai.) We had great first-row seats, and I especially remember how we were enveloped by a seemingly neverending paper snowstorm that was a part of the show. The soundtrack to Alegria just may be my favorite (so far).
O — By far, this is the best Cirque show I’ve seen. O is based in Las Vegas, at Bellagio, and the show has absolutely taken advantage of having its own permanent set. O is water-themed, and it’s simply amazing how the water ebbs and flows on the set. When I visited in December 2005, the smell of the chlorine was almost overpowering. (I later described the theater as smelling like a nuclear chlorine accident, if that makes any sense.) But it was absolutely worth it. And the water acrobatics? Well, wow! I saw O by myself, when I visited Las Vegas to attend the National Finals Rodeo. (The original plan was to go with the Soulmate-Who-Got-Away.)
KÀ — I had so much fun in Las Vegas in December 2005 that I returned in March 2006. Solo, again. Sigh. My guidebook said KÀ was the best of the then-four Cirque shows playing in Vegas, so I booked a seat at the MGM Grand-hosted event. I liked KÀ, but it certainly didn’t displace O as my favorite Cirque show. There’s more of an attempt in KÀ at plot development, but it’s a skeletal (and uninteresting) plot. What’s striking is the amazing stage, which propels the performers through the, um, air. It’s not water acrobatics, but it’s still pretty impressive.
Quidam — In July 2006, the Grand Chapiteau returned to Philly, and I went with a friend from work. My favorite act probably involved four acrobatic young women who performed with large wooden spools, apparently known as diabolos. Quidam is most memorable to me, though, because one of the clowns brought me up on stage from my first-row seat, along with three others, to perform a skit. It’s hard to say no when the circus spotlight is on you…. It seemed like we were up there for a long time, and I just got more and more nervous as the skit went on. (The experience has actually caused me to consider whether I have some sort of anxiety disorder.) I did get a few laughs, though.
Update: In December ’06, when I was in Las Vegas again for the National Finals Rodeo, I caught Zumanity. Zumanity is Cirque’s adult-oriented show, held at New York-New York Hotel and Casino. Since I was in Vegas by myself, I was a little nervous about seeing a show designed, um, to titillate. I was skeptical, too, because some of the reviews I’d seen weren’t all that complimentary: One said I’d see little more than tarted-up stripteases, and another warned that a man-on-man love story was played for laughs. Happily enough, I didn’t find either of those things to be true. Certainly, the show wasn’t as acrobatics-oriented as most Cirque fare, but it still had the Cirque “feel.” The show was adult (gee, that’s more naked breasts than I’ve seen in a lifetime), and witty. I’d go again—but probably only if I had a date.