Cirque du Soleil's OVO

by Kevin Wierzbicki

It was a display of magic and mirth and incredible athleticism as Cirque du Soleil brought their OVO show to the Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix Feb. 20. With performers costumed as various types of insects, the show presents the daily lives of the creatures, which ultimately get delightfully disrupted upon the arrival of a mysterious egg.

After a clever pre-show advisement that "smoking is not allowed in the colony," a beetle-like character best described as the "boss bug" gets to work waking up about a dozen insects who are snoozing on the (most likely intended to be) rain forest floor. (With mostly Brazilian music accompanying the action, a couple of songs sung in Portuguese and the fact that "ovo" means "egg" in Portuguese, it is implied that the scene is the Brazilian rain forest.) The bugs awake in a choreographed ballet that soon has them thinking about food and it quickly arrives, only to be played with as the performers demonstrate their proficiency at foot juggling using props that resemble slices of fruit and ears of corn.

After the awakening scene a male performer goes through an incredible balancing act by himself; the routine is a typical display of the immense talent of Cirque du Soleil cast members but it has another purpose in this insect world; the male is showing off for two female insects who watch nearly mesmerized, daring only to approach hesitatingly. Right about then things really get out of sorts as a wacky-looking bug trudges onto the scene with an egg bigger than he strapped to his back. Falling over exhausted from his journey, this particular insect would prove, along with "boss bug," to be one of the show's main characters.

We don't want to give away too much more of what happens during the show, but there is as much hilarity involved as there is athleticism as bugs fight over a chubby lady bug, have a sword fight, make an array of amusing bug noises and perform slapstick routines. Performers dazzle using aerial straps and slack wires, amaze with tumbling, trampoline and rock wall climbing routines, and bewilder with seemingly-impossible contortions. And always dressed as silky spiders, goofy grasshoppers, daring dragonflies and other bugs of indeterminate origin. There's a funny audience-participation segment too.

Those that missed the spectacle of OVO can take comfort in the fact that Cirque du Soleil will soon be back in Arizona with their AXEL (ice skating) show. Those performances will take place March 19-21 at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley and April 17-19 at the Tucson Convention Center in Tucson. Information on all upcoming Cirque du Soleil performances is here.

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