Friday October 20th 2017

“Cirque Shanghai: Year of the Dragon”

Summer fun has begun at Navy Pier! Once again, “Cirque Shanghai” is appearing at “Pepsi” Skyline stage at Navy Pier and will continue to do so for the entire summer ( through September 3rd). Over the years, I have marveled at the improvement in production value and talent this troupe brings to the stage. This production ( 90 solid minutes of pure fun for the family) is directed by Miao Miao Chen who has been a performer in this “art form” since the age of five herself and has handled the Chicago production since 2009. It is obvious that she is a skilled, creative person who understands the value of giving an audience the thrills and chills of an attraction that will amuse and delight children of all ages ( which of course includes adults, who become “kids” at a show like this).

The show starts off with an opening that gest the audience nvolved- bright colored costumes, dazzling lights and set pieces and a troupe that is energy packed. The Hoop Diving, always a treat follows the opener, but unlike shows in the past, these gentlemen are more acrobatic and play to the audience instead of just doing their thing. In fact, one of the highlights of this new production is the relationship built between the performers and the audience- they want us to know that they care about our reaction and it shows in the way they do their acts. The contortionists ( a standard in a Cirque show) are not the usual women we see. Instead of young, thin little girls, the five artists are women, full grown women, who are able to move in ways that one can only imagine and the Slack Wire ( a sort of small version of a tight rope) is well played with some new twists.

Foot Juggling is something that is usual, but this year’s version is more creative and far more athletic than those of the past as the four ladies are able to shoot baskets and pass four balls in the air to the others with total ease. The “Silks”, always a delight feels a bit more romantic than those of other productions and shows off the smoothness of floating above the crowd with just fabric holding the couple. Bounce Juggling is a new attraction, where a juggler not only juggles in the normal “in the air” juggling, but does “bouncing” juggling with as many as 7 balls on a small platform and even walking up a small flight of stairs- one that needs to be seen!

The chair stack, in this production , is not one woman, stacking chairs and climbing higher and higher, but five women and the chairs are at an angle! Again, an extraordinary look at something we have grown used to, but with a new touch bringing the audience an eyeful. The Rolla Bolla routine- where a can holds a board and the performer balances, is another twist. Using an audience member, our performer has some fun as he gets the audience member to place items on the board and then flips them into the air to land in a bowl that he has flipped onto his head- amazing.

The bike riding sequence has been changed to allow a woman cyclist and around 9 other women balancing on the axle and each other to take a spin around the stage, but the two major numbers in this production are the “Wheel Of Destiny” where two  men defy fear by spinning on the wheels, both inside and outside, juggling and jumping rope as if on the ground. No wires, no fear ( at least not in their eyes- some audience members did show fear in their faces, though). If this wasn’t enough, it was followed up by “Imperial Thunder”,China’s finest daredevil motorcycle troupe in the “Globe of Death” as FIVE ( in the past it was only four) motorcycles ride at full throttle within a steel globe, crossing each other’s paths in this limited space, with no where to go if they slip or lose their balance.

I have seen Cirque Shanghai’s shows since they started at Navy Pier and this one is the best ever! During the finale, the entire audience rose to its feet and the applause was near deafening- if you have seen previous productions, you will love this one even more, if you have never enjoyed the Cirque show at Navy Pier- now is definitely the time to plan it as part of your summer fun. “The Year of the dragon” will continue at Navy Pier’s “Pepsi” Skyline Stage through September 3rd with performances as follows:

Wednesday at 2 p.m.,6 p.m. and 8 p.m.*                                                                                                                                                      

Thursday at 2 and 8 p.m.,Fridays at 2, 7 and 9 p.m.,Saturdays at 2,6 and 8 p.m.* and Sundays at 2 and 4 p.m.

* Wednesday and Saturday are fireworks nights at Navy Pier, so upon leaving the fireworks on the stage, stay around for the fireworks show over Navy Pier.

Special added shows- Tuesday, July 3rd at 2,6 and 8 p.m.( fireworks to follow) and Sunday Sept. 2nd at 8 p.m. and Monday Labor day at 2 and 4 p.m.

Tickets range from $15.50-$29.50 ( a great value) and can be ordered by calling 1-800-745-3000 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com/shanghai

Have a group? call 773-327-3778 or visit www.grouptix.net     

 

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