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THEATER REVIEW Cirque du Soleil's Luzia
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Playwright: Daniele Finzi Pasca. At: Big Top, United Center Parking Lot K, 1901 W. Madison St. Tickets: 877-924-7783 or; $35 and up. Runs through: Sept. 3

Cirque du Soleil is the largest theatrical producer in the world. There have been numerous traveling shows, most recently with the steampunk-themed Kurios and the Avatar-inspired Toruk. Now Luzia arrives in Chicago to captivate the town with a Mexican theme described as a waking dream.

Our acrobatic adventure begins with a plane ride where a clown lands in Mexico via a parachute and turns a huge key. That is where the plot quickly ends, as the audience witnesses a variety of astounding feats for more than two hours with a long intermission. This is to give attendees time to shop merchandise, order refreshments and enjoy the immersive experience in the big white tent.

Luzia is a diverse combination of performers that keep the circus stunts moving on a circular stage.

After the Mexican government fronted more than $47 million ( in U.S. dollars ) for sponsorship, it is a surprise to see that none of the acrobats are from Latin American countries. Singer Majo Conejo is from Mexico, and most of the musicians are from various Latin America regions along with a few puppeteers—but that is it.

The sets are designed by Eugenio Caballero, who won an Academy Award for Pan's Labyrinth. He's created some nice touches, especially teaming with projection designer Johnny Ranger to make breathtaking images on a waterfall.

There are many highlights to take notice of and makes Luzia worth the trip to the parking lot of the United Center. Luzia is already the talk of the town in the Windy City, and with good reason.

Several colorful characters stand out from the crowd in the hardworking cast.

Eric Fool Koller plays the clown and uses a whistle to communicate with the crowd, coaching audience members to cheer and participate. He keeps the comedy coming throughout the journey and is a lot of fun.

Contortionist Aleksei Goloborodko is unforgettable, as a human snake. Like a pretzel, he stretches himself into some unbelievable positions and revels in the creepiness of being this creature. Juggler Rudolph Janecek earned the Guinness World Record for spinning seven pins at the same time and throws them at high speeds.

Cast members dressed as hummingbirds were pitch-perfect as they flew through the air and hoops—beak first.

Luzia will be captivating for most age groups, although something stuck out, as a cactus arm was strategically placed lower on a costume to make adults laugh and is not appropriate for younger viewers. It could be cut.

Speaking of cuts, accidents have happened over the years in Cirque shows, from broken vertebras to comas. On opening night, a juggling pin almost hit a front-row attendee, although that might have been staged. This all just adds to the unpredictability and spontaneity of a circus performance.

The show is about style, and is designed to resonate especially with audiences from Latin backgrounds, but everyone can enjoy the experience. Luzia has great timing, and will hopefully tear down walls between cultures instead of build them.

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