|Amaluna director Diane Paulus.|
I didn't really handle it well when I first heard the vague briefing back in August. When I first heard the theme was revolving around women power and to be based on The Tempest, I was pretty distressed. It was around August last year (the same day I saw Sarah Winter's incredible Scratch piece) I spent a good hour clawing at my face and walked around the rest of the afternoon with my fists clenched - when I ran into David Berthold he tried to shake my hand and I had to refuse since I said my hands were all sweaty. He probably thought I'd been masturbating or something. Anyway, my initial reaction has pretty much totally faded away and I am confident this is going to be a fantastic production.
|A rendering of the Amaluna set design from Scott Pask.|
The rest of the creation team generally sound quite promising. World renowned and long-term collaborator Debra Brown returns to work her magic on choreography, and Mérédith Caron returns to Cirque for a second time after Believe in 2009 to work with her magic on costumes. Tony award winner Scott Pask is working on the set design, which looks amazing with the utilization of plants and other foliage to decorate and transform the chapiteau. Originally to be led by French-Canadian world vocalist Nitza Melas, the creators I'm most uneasy on is the return of Bob and Bill. The Canadian duo are composers who have worked for Cirque on several projects, including being the composers on Robert Lepage's 2010 production of Totem. Their music is fine and appropriate but lacks the power and grandeur of previous Cirque scores. Hopefully they will really utilize their fantastic singers and pump out some great anthems for this show - this sneak peek of the material at Cirque Week 2011 sounds promising, although the promo on the official website sounds like it was written for Ruben Guthrie.
Acts that are billed to appear so far are Aerial Hoops (featuring Cirque veteran Marie-Michelle Faber), High Bar, Aerial Straps, and a new dicipline will join Cirque when Lara Jacobs from Rigolo Nouveau Cirque will perform her Rigolos Sanddorn Balance act.
What excites me most about Amaluna is that it will most likely return Cirque to its real roots. Not their tacky original image of circus driven by people who perform tricks, but their amalgam of avant-garde theatrical elements with incredible acrobatic feats. It's very early to make any real calls on the quality of Amaluna, but the website launch and press release earlier this week are good signs. The aesthetic on the website is gorgeous. The combination of colours rarely gets pulled off properly since pink and blue are usually hideous, but it seems to be used in appropriate proportions here to make a really interesting, contrasting design.
Despite what most audiences think, merely performing a sequence of tricks does not warrant a good Cirque du Soleil act. Although almost all the acts within the show are technically proficient, in terms of its value as a theatrical work most of Cirque du Soleil's recent offerings have been severely lacking. Hopefully under Paulus' direction Cirque will be able to reconnect with the image that distinguished them as an entertainment empire of the highest quality.
I'm really hoping that this production will be excellent. The synopsis and premise sounds whimsical, the show will have phenomenal artists appearing in it and the creation is being handled by people who are experienced in creating theatre. I'm hoping that the show won't flop like Zarkana, which looked fantastic then tried to shit on New York (which thankfully saw through it). I guess we'll have to wait for the show's premier in April.
Amaluna by Cirque du Soleil opens in Montreal on April 19th. Tickets range from $40 to $139.50. Book by visiting Cirque du Soleil's official website or by calling 1-800-450-1480.