Don’t write an obituary for circuses. Cirque Italia proves there’s plenty of life in the format, as long as you add water and shake vigorously.
Now playing at the Southern Hills Mall, the touring production offers a host of traditional acts atop 35,000 gallons of water.
From time to time, dancing waters rotate while aerialists hang from the top of a cozy, sometimes hot, tent. But, for the most part, it’s not the show’s calling card, just a neat effect that keeps audiences constantly guessing.
While the “Italia” aspect is limited to a couple of conceits (a handstand artist sings Italian opera while balancing on blocks of wood), the show’s variety is fairly broad.
Cyclists, contortionists and clowns give the marquee acts plenty of time to prep before the oohs and ahhs begin.
Among the most harrowing: Alberto and the Wheel of Death. Rolling around inside a moving sphere, he gets the biggest gasps when he gets on the outside of the wheel and jumps rope while it’s moving.
Aerialists Morgaine Rosenthal and Danilo Fernandez earn their applause swinging from the top of the tent, taking turns holding each other and flying through the air.
While Mauricio and Damian Auguilar’s high-wire act has plenty of familiar moves, they get their best reaction when one wears a covering that makes it impossible for him to see where he’s walking. Even more impressive? It’s done without a net.
For good measure, the show has a dinosaur bit that’s fun and a quick number from Anita and Karchy Zeman that looks like something from “America’s Got Talent.” Later, the two do a roller skating routine that finds him swinging her by her neck while the fountains rise and fall with impressive precision.
Recalling the kind of tent circuses that used to roll into towns across the country, Cirque Italia has plenty of high-end perks and a few 21st century tricks. Among them: Fernandez and Gimmi Fornaciari (the Italian singer) play with lasers in the second act that should please most “Star Wars” fans.
While the show is limited to one ring, it’s one ring that’s extremely versatile. Look closely and you’ll also see the international performers in different capacities. One act’s stagehands turn out to be the next act’s stars.
If you can’t understand what the show’s clowns are saying, don’t fret. Actions speak louder than words.
And, in this case, there are plenty of actions to keep you talking for days and no animal acts to make you worry about their welfare.
A new generation of circus? It’s here and it couldn’t be more welcome.
Cirque Italia continues through this weekend at Southern Hills Mall.