Monday, November 4, 2013

Odysseo -- Rodeo Meets Cirque du Soleil in Stampede of a Production

By Lauren Yarger
Finally back from a prolonged road trip to share with you a wonderful show I saw while in Washington, DC.

It's Cavalia's Odysseo, a gigantic production featuring 63 horses and 47 artists (riders and tumbling performers). It's a veritable rodeo meets Cirque du Soleil and it is selling out where ever it goes. The DC show has been extended through Nov.10 at the Harbor Yard. Next stop: Seattle. Check for information.

The action takes place in a huge tent on a stage with a panoramic backdrop that changes to different terrains as the story takes us to different places around the earth (though, ike with Cirque du Soleil, the story kinds of gets lost in the wake of all of the thrilling visuals and music taking place).

I'm just going to paste here some information from the show because this isn't really something I can "review" in the regular sense. Trust me, it's worth it, even before the amazing finale which floods the stage with a river and falls through which the horses ride. A great show for the family:

From the show:
Odysseo: Larger Than Life 
The horse has marked human history and progress more than any other animal. Horses have 
taken us to the ends of the earth, enabled us to build bridges between cultures and expand 
civilization. It is the beauty and harmony of this ancient relationship, this meeting of two worlds 
– those of horse and man – that inspired the creators of Cavalia’s second show, Odysseo. As 
friends, partners and inseparable performers on stage, 63 horses and 47 artists lead the viewer 
on a great journey in yet another world – a world of dreams – where, together, they discover 
some of the planet’s most unforgettable landscapes. 
With this new creation, Cavalia marries the equestrian arts, stage arts and high-tech theatrical 
effects at never-before-seen levels. A veritable revolution in live performance, Odysseo 
comprises a list of superlatives: the world’s largest touring big top, the biggest stage, the most 
beautiful visual effects, and the greatest number of horses at liberty. 
The creators of this new ode to the horse made the decision to indulge their wildest artistic 
ambitions. Their gamble paid off: Odysseo pushes the limits of live entertainment by creating a 
larger-than-life show that sends hearts racing, but it is also a feast for the eyes that succeeds in 
delivering the spectacular with soul.

Scenography and Visual effects 
To give life to this extraordinary equestrian adventure, Cavalia created a 17,500 square feet 
stage, in the middle of which rise two hills each three storeys tall. Some 10,000 tons of rock, 
earth and sand are trucked in and then sculpted to create the vast space of freedom where 
human and horse come to play in complicity. 
Above the stage hangs an imposing technical grid capable of supporting 80 tons of equipment 
including, a full-sized merry-go-round, far beyond anything attempted to date on any touring 
show and comparable to the best-equipped theaters of Las Vegas, London or New York. 
Odysseo presents a “live 3-D” voyage with extremely high-definition computer graphic images 
that transport the audience across the world’s most beautiful landscapes. To project these 
breathtaking graphic backdrops on an immense cyclorama the size of three IMAX screens, 
Odysseo uses projectors as powerful as those illuminating the grandest movie theaters. But 
whereas a cinema has only one projector, Odysseo uses 18 simultaneously! 

A world of dreams and fantasies 
The dream begins in a misty, enchanted forest where horses graze and frolic under a sky of 
rolling clouds and a setting sun. Horses, riders, acrobats and musicians embark on a soulful 
journey that leads them from the Mongolian steppes to Monument Valley, from the African 
savannah to Nordic glaciers, from the Sahara to Easter Island. 
Throughout this grand voyage, spectators discover urban stilters and applaud the prowess of a 
troupe of African acrobats. Viewers are mesmerized by horses powering angelic aerialists in a 
four-person silks act that takes them into the skies. To the sound of an African harp called a 
Kora, audiences witness the beauty of 20 horses lying on sand dunes awaken. They will likewise 
appreciate the beautiful liberty number, uniting purebred Arabian horses directed by inaudible 
vocal commands from their kneeling trainer. 
The scenes follow the seasons and their attendant wonders. At times, the horses and people in 
this fabulous caravan become too numerous to count. 
The Odysseo epic wraps up with a fantastic crescendo as the stage is inundated with 80,000 
gallons of water in just a few minutes. A vertiginous virtual waterfall overhangs the resulting 
lake, in which horses, riders and artists join to frolic, leaving behind them the traces of their 
splashes and an astonished audience. 

A show that feeds the soul 
Although the audacity, inventiveness and monumental scope of Cavalia’s new creation may 
boggle the mind, the essence of this magnificent equestrian odyssey lies elsewhere. Beyond the 
impressive technical display and equestrian and acrobatic numbers that are unlike anything 
ever seen on stage, Odysseo is first and foremost a work that feeds the soul. In these difficult, 
troubled times, Odysseo offers up something gentle, even tender. The poetry flowing from this 
grand adventure shines a light on a more humane world where human and horse may live in 
harmony. For just a few hours, the spectator sets off to discover new horizons, the limits of his 
imagination, and gets to experience a waking dream in a world where beauty, serenity and 
hope reign. 

Standing 125 feet tall, the White Big Top is a traffic-stopping addition to the skyline of each city 
Cavalia’s Odysseo performs. When visitors enter, they are immediately transported into a lavish 
and intimate environment reminiscent of any permanent theatre. 
Following the instant success of the first Cavalia show in 2003, Latourelle began to dream of 
how to break through the limitations of a big top tent. The biggest challenge was to open up 
the performance area. Latourelle knew that such unprecedented flexibility would allow him to 
showcase more horses and acrobats to create mind-boggling scenes. This involved removing 
supporting masts from the stage, a common staging issue in tent shows. A specially-designed 
big top was created in Europe, where the weight of the structure shifted from masts to three 
arches above the tent. The Italian firm Canobbio, in collaboration with Artistic Director 
Normand Latourelle, designed the tent and supervised construction. Asteo of France and 
Genivar of Canada supervised engineering operations. The arches that support the massive 
structure were built by Show Canada. 
More than twice the size of the structure created for Cavalia’s original production, the White 
Big Top is the size of two NFL football fields. The 17,500 square feet stage, larger than a hockey 
rink, and the 50-foot wide backstage area offer a vast playground for more than 30 cantering 
horses. The grandiose stage also offers incredible possibilities for large-scale stagings 
A total of five tents comprise Cavalia’s Odysseo village. 

A show that feeds the soul 
Although the audacity, inventiveness and monumental scope of Cavalia’s new creation may 
boggle the mind, the essence of this magnificent equestrian odyssey lies elsewhere. Beyond the 
impressive technical display and equestrian and acrobatic numbers that are unlike anything 
ever seen on stage, Odysseo is first and foremost a work that feeds the soul. In these difficult, 
troubled times, Odysseo offers up something gentle, even tender. The poetry flowing from this 
grand adventure shines a light on a more humane world where human and horse may live in 
harmony. For just a few hours, the spectator sets off to discover new horizons, the limits of his 
imagination, and gets to experience a waking dream in a world where beauty, serenity and 
hope reign. 

 Odysseo features 63 horses of 11 different breeds including the Appaloosa, Arabian, 
Canadian, Holsteiner, Lusitano, Oldenburg, Paint Horse, Quarter Horse, Spanish 
Purebred (P.R.E.) and Warmblood. 
 The horses are from Spain, Portugal, France, The Netherlands, Germany, The United 
States and Canada. 
 There are 47 artists - riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians. 
 The artists are from around the world including the United States, Canada, Brazil, 
France, Belgium, Guinea, Russia, Spain and Ukraine. 
 There are 350 costumes and 100 pairs of shoes and boots in the show. Artists may have 
up to seven different costumes. 
 An artist may have no more than 90 seconds to do a quick costume change between 
 A team of 20 artisans, including four cutters, 13 dressmakers, one property master, one 
designer and one shoemaker worked in the Cavalia studios to create the costumes. 
 Materials used in the costumes include linen, silk, cotton, leather and some imitation 
fur. The use of natural fibers gives the clothes a sheen and lets them fall in a way that 
synthetic fibers simply cannot match. 
 The costumes are adapted to the artists’ needs, especially those of the acrobats and 
riders, to facilitate their onstage movement while not compromising their appearance. 
 The on-tour costume department consists of one wardrobe person and three dressers 
who launders, mends and cares for the costumes. At times during the show, they juggle 
15 simultaneous wardrobe changes. They have two sewing machines, one shoe-repair 
machine and one overlock machine.

TICKETS in DC - Ticket are priced from $34.50 to $149.50 + applicable taxes and fees. For a memorable evening, the Rendez-Vous package offers the best seats in the house, exquisite buffet-dinning before the show, open bar, desserts during intermission and an exclusive visit of the stable after the show. This unique VIP experience takes place in a luxurious tent alongside the White Big Top. The Rendez-Vous package prices range from $154.50 to $229.50 + applicable taxes and fees.

ABOUT CAVALIA INC. – Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, Cavalia Inc. is an entertainment company that specializes in the creation, production and touring of innovative shows for audiences of all ages. Founded by Normand Latourelle, the company has an expertise in equestrian and performing arts, and is known for making the most of cutting-edge technology, multimedia and special effects, which allows for the creation of magical, unique, never-before-seen theatrical experiences. Cavalia, seen by some 4 million people across North America and Europe since its 2003 debut, celebrates the relationship between humans and horses by loosely recounting the evolution of this bond. Odysseo, which premiered in 2011, takes the next step, leading viewers on a great journey where horses and humans, together, discover some of the planet’s most unforgettable landscapes. Follow Cavalia Inc.’s latest developments at or

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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

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for 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


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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