Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: Cirque du Soleil's OVO on Randall's Island

Photo credits : Benoit Fontaine © 2009 Cirque du Soleil Inc.
By Lauren Yarger
Various insects, a mysterious egg, clowns, skilled contortionists and flying acts combine to create OVO, the newest Cirque du Soleil show to play under the big top at Randall’s Island, NYC.

The acts aren’t new, and some aren’t as breath taking or death defying as those in other Cirque productions, but these seem more polished and appear to require more skill and endurance from the performers. The costumes from Liz Vandat are some of the best yet, amazingly vibrant and insect-like, even if you can’t quite identify all of the creatures. I love the winged legs on the dragonfly.

This tale, written, choreographed and directed by Deborah Colker, Cirque’s first female to helm a production, is a journey into the land of bugs and features a cast of 54 artists from 16 countries acting out the life of insects as they eat, play and even look for love. The insect world design is by Gringo Cardia, who also handles props, with lighting and sound design by Eric Champoux and Jonathan Deans. Guy Lalliberte and Gilles Ste-Croix are artistic guides.

The aerial silk “Cocoon” number, featuring Marjorie Nantel’s transformation from cocoon into moth, and the sensuous high rope act “Butterflies” with Maxim Kozlov and Inna Mayorova as lovers are like beautiful ballets in air. Fred Gerard designs the acrobatic equipment and rigging while Phillippe Auberlin is acrobatic performance designer.
There are balance-defying ants who twirl and juggle various pieces of food, like large corn cobs and kiwis with their feet, then lob them back and forth while flipping positions with each other. It really is amazing. Dragonfly Vladmir Hrynchenko performs hand balancing and crickets perform tumbling extraordinaire on stage and up and down a large wall surface.

Those are just a few of the highlights in the production, which also offers high flying and slack wire acts as well a funny Lady Bug (Michelle Matlock LeBlanc), a clown, Flipo (Joseph Collard), who toys with members of the audience, a Foreigner bug (Francois-Guillaume), who attracts the attentions of the Lady Bug, and nine on-stage musicians dressed like cockroaches (music is composed and directed by Berna Ceppas).

It’s totally kid friendly and there were lots of them giggling happily the day I attended. The mysterious egg (ovo means egg in Portuguese) takes various shapes throughout the tale and is the star of the closing number, but not in the way you might expect.

Some tips to make OVO more enjoyable:
  1. The seats are VERY tiny. If you are a person of larger size, you might want to look into purchasing an aisle seat.
  2. Leave a little extra time to get out to the island. Options include
    • the New York Water Taxi leaving from East 35th and East 90th streets
    • the x80 express bus with non-stop service to the island from the 125th street Metro North train station
    • taking the RFK Bridge over the East River.
  3. There is a 30-minute intermission

OVO plays a limited engagement at Randall's Island Park through June 6. For tickets and information, click here or call 800-450-1480. Performance schedule: Tuesdays through Thursdays at 8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 4 and 8 pm and Sundays at 1 and 5 pm.

The show will tour this summer and fall to Hartford, Boston, Washington DC and Atlanta. Find information on the tour here http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/ovo/tickets.aspx.

Christians might also like to know:
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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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