Ovo by Cirque du Soleil
Families will literally bug out and have a blast at the troupe's latest spectacle.
Mon Mar 22 2010
Cirque du Soleil's Ovo
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5
Let's face it, most "family-friendly theater" is aimed at kids, not parents (see 101 Dalmatians...or better yet, don't). That's why Cirque du Soleil's annual shows (except for the delayed and troubled Banana Shpeel, which supposedly isn't appropriate for children) are such a boon for moms and dads sick of suffering through bland edutainment. The Quebec-based circus employs its signature formula for Ovo (Portuguese for "egg"): astonishing acts, elaborate aesthetics and world music integrated into a fantastical story. But the result is even more impressive and immersive than usual, with the audience treated to a brilliant bug's-eye view of our planet.
The very loose plot revolves around a goofy, flylike creature (Francois-Guillaume Leblanc), who comes across a community of insects ruled by a spitting beetle (green-haired Joseph Collard, an instant hit with the kids), and soon falls for a curvaceous ladybug (the adorable Michelle Matlock). In between their comedic courting scenes come the routines: A firefly who conquers the diabolo; a quintet of female ants who juggle objects...and each other; a sensual butterfly aerial duet; a spider-man who performs amazing tricks atop a slackwire; and a swarm of crickets bouncing off a trampoline wall. As with all top-notch big-top entertainment, words fail to capture the jaw-dropping, gravity-defying awesomeness of the acts. Writer-director Deborah Colker—a well-known Brazilian choreographer and the first woman to helm a Cirque du Soleil production—infuses the proceedings with romance and, notably, dance moves that help complete the intricate eco-system conjured by colorful sets, gorgeous costumes and exotic soundtrack.
At two and a half hours (including a half-hour intermission, during which you're plied with merch and snacks), Ovo might be a stretch for fidgety toddlers. But preschoolers and up should stay engaged (the two four-year-olds in my company were transfixed, although they had to be shushed frequently because they kept exclaiming, "Cool!!"). VIP "Tapis Rouge" seats are frighteningly expensive ($225 for adults; $178 for children under 13) but thrillingly close to the stage, and allow you access to a lounge filled with tasty hors d'oeuvres and candy, souvenirs and, perhaps most important, shorter bathroom lines. Discounts are floating around, including 25 percent off tickets via Broadwaybox.com. And happily, unlike Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Cirque du Soleil doesn't feature any animals—though your kids might find it hard to believe that Ovo's nimble performers are just plain old humans.—Raven Snook
Ovo by Cirque du Soleil plays through Jun 6 at the Grand Chapiteau on Randalls Island. Tickets: $55-$255.