This Cirque Show Peels a Bit Differently
By Lauren YargerIf you’re a fan of the old TV show “Taxi,” you’ll probably get a kick out of a couple of the characters in Cirque du Soleil’s newest show, Banana Shpeel, playing Off-Broadway at the newly refurbished Beacon Theater. If you’re a fan of the Canada-based presentations that are usually a dream-like blend of music, costumes and circus feats, this journey off the beaten path into the world of Vaudeville (well, Vaudeville-like would be a better description) might not be what you’re expecting.
Danny Rutigliano (above), looking like a sparkly green leprechaun in Dominique Lumieux’ costume and sounding like Danny DeVito, channels the character of Louie from Taxi into Marty Shmelky, who runs a sort of Vaudeville show with the help of some clowns (Claude Carneiro, Patrick de Valette, Shereen Hickman, Daniel Passer, Gordon white and Wayne Wilson) and introduces each of the acts. (One of the clowns sounds and looks a lot like Rev. Jim from Taxi too.)
The acts aren’t really vaudeville numbers, but traditional cirque offerings with some non-traditional tap dancing numbers featuring Joseph and Josette C. Wiggans with choreography by Jared Grimes. There also are contortionists (Tsybenova Ayagma, Tsydendambaeva Imin and Zhambalova Lilia), a foot juggler (Vanessa Alvarez) and a hand-balancing act (Dimitri Bulkin) that’s truly artistic and gravity-defying. You also can expect the traditional interaction with audience members.
What’s rather unexpected and unfortunate is the frequent use of sexually charged dialogue, language and the use of God’s name in vain, all of which give pause about the appropriateness of the show for little ones (say age 10 and under). It’s all unnecessary in what otherwise would be a fun and entertaining program from Director of Creation Serge Roy and writer David Shiner, who also directs.
Banana Shpeel runs through June 27 (closing earlier than had been announced) at the Beacon, 2124 Broadway
(between 74th & 75th streets). For tickets call 212-465-6500.
Christians might also like to know:
• God’s name taken in vain
• Male clown dresses in woman’s costume
• Teachings of Buddha are referred to
Additional note: The overzealous staff at the Beacon will require a photo ID for you to pick up your tickets at the box office and will search your bags and require you to throw out any food or drink you might have with you when entering the theater.