Earlier this week we were invited in for a unique look behind the scenes at the food preparation of the Cirque du Soleil traveling performances. We typically save the space in our Rock City publications for all things local, we found the the food to be surprisingly local sourced. After spending some time with the cast and staff, we discovered they have deep appreciation for each city they enter. So we decided to return the favor and take in a show on Friday night.
There are tons of performances, concerts, and more that come through Verizon Arena throughout the year, but the artistry of Cirque du Soleil is something that is far more respectable than many big tours. If you have never taken in a show, you certainly should. The best part about their traveling performances is that the same show that hits big cities like New York and LA is the same exact show that Little Rock gets. Due to the training time, resources, and level of performance required they are not able to produce a B tour unlike a lot of stage performances that come through town. The Wicked you see in Little Rock, for instance, is often not using the same highly skilled actors in the versions that hit the major markets.
Every Cirque du Soleil tour is always fast paced and exciting. The athletes who perform are world class acrobats and gymnasts, it is worth it just to go and watch their amazing feats. From an artistic standpoint they do an amazing job with props, set design, and costumes, some of the highest class work you will ever find on a road show performance.
Their latest show, Toruk: First Flight, is based on the movie Avatar and serves as a bit of a prequel to the movie. Because of this theme it takes a notably different tone than traditional Cirque performances by putting storytelling ahead of performance. The performance is great, as always, but it does have a nice flow that should do a great job introducing people new to Cirque du Soleil performances to the style. It also will do a much better job at holding the attention of younger fans than their traditional performances.
For those who are longtime fans of Cirque performances, it does offer something fresh and different than previous tours. The acrobatics are just as awe inspiring, but come less frequent than other tours.
The set design here really shines. In our walk through on during preparations while working on the food story we noticed that absolutely everything on set is grey. It is then colored with digital light projection to allow for fewer set changes while bringing in a level of diversity never seen before. The set is also huge, using every inch of floor space available. Talking with the show’s crew it is the largest set they have ever produced for a Cirque du Soleil show. A floor to ceiling rock wall backdrop also serves as a key component.
That is not the only huge part, many of the props and puppets are gigantic compared to other shows. The Toruk, which is basically a cross between a dragon and a pterodactyl for those who have not seen the movie, is enormous. It requires every available puppeteer in the crew to man the beast. There are a number of other very large props that come in and out during the show that require skilled hands and quick assembly.
This Cirque du Soleil tour really is something that works for everyone. World class athletics, emotional stage performances, action, adventure, and beautiful art. The show runs today and tomorrow and tickets are available. If you are looking for something to do on an otherwise dreary weekend I highly recommend it.