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February 10, 2010 > Oh-VO-What a show!!

Oh-VO-What a show!!

By Joe Samagond

Cirque du Soleil's latest offering, "OVO" is a catapult into a colorful ecosystem bursting with life. Here insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a non-stop riot of energy and movement. The first ever Cirque show to be written directed and choreographed by a woman, Deborah Colker, "OVO" is overflowing with contrasts. The hidden, secret world at our feet is revealed as tender and torrid, noisy and quiet, peaceful and chaotic. And as the sun rises on a bright new day the vibrant cycle of insect life begins anew.

The name OVO means "egg" in Portuguese. This timeless symbol of the life cycle and birth of numerous insects represents the underlying thread of the show. When such a mysterious egg appears in their midst, the insects are awestruck and intensely curious about this iconic object that represents the enigma and cycles of their lives.

Cirque nicely balances the show between theatrical entertainment (with original musical scores and live singers), circus tricks at its core, the traditional circus clowns disguised this time as the head insect, the fool who loses the egg, and a lady bug lover who manages to tie the show together. From giant flower set pieces to the initial giant egg seen upon the stage as the audience enters the tent, OVO creates a luscious awe inspiring experience that manages to fully envelope the Cirque mantra at its best.

As usual, the costumes are simply dazzling, this time evoking an array of insects. The grasshoppers are particularly impressive. Liz Vandal, the costume designer, has a special affinity for the world of the insects. "I've always had passion for them," she says. "When I was just a kid I put rocks down around the yard near the fruit trees and I lifted them regularly to watch the insects who had taken up residence underneath them. I petted caterpillars and let butterflies into the house. So when I learned that OVO was inspired by insects, I immediately knew that I was in a perfect position to pay tribute to this majestic world with my costumes."

The set, and the scene changes are so inventive and clever and transform so smoothly from one to another that by the end of the show, the back wall (an area rarely used as a central focus in the Grand Chapiteau shows) seemed to come out of nowhere (even though it had been looming over the set the whole time). Grasshoppers hop around in the final spectacular sequence with trampolines that appear out of the ground, while Ants crawl across the back wall.

Tickets are a bit pricey, but this Montreal-based troupe of international-sensations definitely delivers your money's worth. The custom built Grand Chapiteau seats over 2,600 spectators per show and as in a Roman amphitheater; the seats fan out through 270 degrees around a central, circular revolving stage. No matter where you sit you will feel like you are getting an intimate view of the show.

Part of my enjoyment of any Cirque show is the stage, which is very modular. What seemed like a normal stage at first, evolved into something much larger than expected, and is ever-changing.

The cast of OVO comprises 54 performing artists from 13 countries who brilliantly execute many acrobatic acts including a stunning flying trapeze act: Six flyers soar 40 feet in the air, making this act the biggest of its kind ever presented under a big top by Cirque du Soleil. It combines many circus disciplines: banquine, Russian swing and swinging chair. The finale features 20 artists running, jumping and leaping up a 24-foot vertical wall.

OVO is definitely worth watching, it is more interactive than most Cirque shows and young children will especially love the antics of the three clowns, Flippo, Foreigner and the ladybug.

Cirque du Soleil's OVO
Through March 7
Under the Big Top
Taylor Street Bridge - Lot E, San Jose
(800) 450-1480

VIP Tapis Rouge $175 - $250
General Seating: $135 - $65 Adults
Children $94.50 - $45.50

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