Friday, November 17, 2017

REVIEW: Cirque du Soleil's Crystal: Ice Circus Experience

We got a chance to see Crystal, Cirque du Soleil's latest arena show, which is here in Chicago (actually Hoffman Estates) on a short run through November 19. I saw the opening night on November 16, and wanted to rush this review out because it's a really fun show, and well worth seeing, especially if you like ice shows.

I have to warn you though:  this is not an ice show for babies.  This isn't Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck have a great time on ice.  This show has moments of darkness and light, and some relatively adult themes (nothing too adult, but there's a few monologues about being alone, and there's a couple of moments where it looks like Hell on Ice might start to unfold.  It never actually happens, but it feels like it might, and those are some of the best moments in the show.)

The show starts with a very fun pre-show.  The stage is set, and hockey players are messing around on the ice, the clown is encouraging people to throw snowballs at him, there's a couple flirting on the ice.  It's a small town in Canada or New England where the local skating pond is the center of attention.  Then the show starts, the lights dim, and the structure in the back of the ice rink lights up, and displays a computerized slide show that shows off our protagonist Crystal. 

Her parents are yelling at her, her friends are making fun of her, and she needs to get away and go for a nice long skate.  She is out on the ice when the unthinkable happens.  In a startling visual effect, the ice cracks, and like an ice skating Alice in Wonderland she descends into the world beneath the ice.

The clown in the audience during pre-show.
It's a great concept, and if they could have kept that story going, and showed us what the underwater world was really like, and kept it up, it would have been outstanding.  But like most Cirque shows, the plot gets a little murky and unclear as the circus acts take over, and the story goes out the window.

As always the set is wonderful, and the circus acts are great.  Circus acts take on a new meaning of bravura when they take place over frozen water, and every acrobat and performer is a superb skater and it shows. A special shout-out to the swinging poles act, which is a pole act that sort of becomes a flying trapeze act in the middle, as the poles swing to each other and the acrobats vault to the pole.

 I was also really taken with the hockey routine, in which 4 or 5 ice skating acrobats do skateboard-like tricks on skates, getting 10-15 feet of air on ramps as they jump up and do all sorts of impossible flips and stunts on ice.  There's also a really nice juggling act, a breakaway ice bike,  lots of hand-balancing and aerial work, and a live band that plays an eclectic range of music.

The following photos were provided by Cirque du Soleil and were taken by photographer Mathew Beard.

One interesting thing about this show is that they used a lot of text and songs with discernible lyrics in the show.  It did set a tone and make the play a little clearer, but not as much as you would think.  Still, after seeing a whole bunch of Cirque shows, it was interesting to see this one take a different tact.  (This was my second Cirque show this week, having seen La Nouba in Orlando last week!  #circuseverydamnweek!)

The show is performing in the Sears Arena in Hoffman Estates.  It's a little bit of a hike from Chicago, and lots of the shows are right after rush hour, so you should leave early. It took us a little over an hour to get there (and I live in the north of Chicago, and it's supposedly 29 miles from my house) There's a shopping mall nearby with plenty of eating choices.


Tickets start at $30.  To purchase tickets, visit the Cirque site

After the Chicago dates, the show will tour Canada and the US for at least the next 6 months.

Here's a list of cities and dates where Crystal is coming.
(always subject to change)

Hoffman Estates, IL Sears Centre Arena Nov 16-19, 2017

Worcester, MA DCU Center Dec 7-10, 2017

Quebec, QC Centre Vidéotron  Dec 13-17, 2017

Montreal, QC Centre Bell Dec 20-31, 2017

Windsor, ON WFCU Centre Jan 3-7, 2018

Detroit, MI      Little Caesars Arena Jan 10-14, 2018

Pittsburgh, PA PPG Paints Arena Jan 17-21, 2018

Topeka, KS Kansas Expocentre Jan 24-28, 2018

Colorado Springs, CO Broadmoor World Arena January 31, 2018 - February 4, 2018

Rio Rancho, NM Santa Ana Star Center Feb 7-11, 2018

Cedar Park, TX H-E-B Center Feb 14-18, 2018

Phoenix, AZ Talking Stick Resort Arena Mar 8-11, 2018

Tucson, AZ Tucson Arena Mar 14-18, 2018

San Diego, CA Valley View Casino Center Mar 21-25, 2018

San Jose, CA SAP Center March 28, 2018 - April 1, 2018

Portland, OR Moda Center Apr 4-8, 2018

Abbotsford, BC Abbotsford Centre Apr 11-15, 2018

Penticton, BC South Okanagan Events Centre Apr 18-22, 2018

Prince George, BC CN Centre Apr 25-29, 2018

Saskatoon, SK SaskTel Centre May 16-20, 2018

Medicine Hat, AB Canalta Centre May 23-27, 2018

No comments: