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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Amaluna from Cirque du Soleil Waxes and Wanes
at Marymoor Park

Amaluna

Every year in the recent past, Cirque du Soleil has won Seattle audiences over with a new show from their ever expanding canon. This year it is Amaluna, which has set up shop in Redmond's roomy Marymoor Park. The show, more story-driven than the usual Cirque efforts, is a riff on Shakespeare's The Tempest with a femme-centric twist. Directed by red-hot Broadway director Diane Paulus (whose Broadway-bound revival of Pippin is receiving raves in Boston), the show is like all the Cirque shows to come this way, a treat for the senses, providing a wide gamut of thrills. Yet it feels overlong and falls flat when it sends in the clowns, keeping it from being as thoroughly spellbinding as some past Cirque de Soleil spectaculars.

Prospera, a female wizard, rules an enchanted island with her innocent daughter Miranda by her side. Her lover in this version is called Romeo and is a master of the Chinese poles. Caliban becomes Cali, a serpent man, the most captivating and hypnotic character presence in the cast. Even when he is simply watching the action, Cali is hard to take your eyes off of, so compelling is the characterization. A second act highlight comes with a goddess who magically transforms thirteen palm leaf ribs into a lovely sculpture. There are fiercely beautiful Amazons, and rascally pirates who mesmerize. The pair of clowns who play out a slapstick courtship are beyond hokey, and the show really grinds to a halt when they are the focal point, though it picks right up again at the conclusion of their antics.

Under the Cirque's Grand Chapiteau, Scott Pask's exquisite settings are a constant feast for the eyes, and Meredith Caron creates an astonishingly varied array of glittering other-worldly costumes. Karole Armitage's choreography is splashy (and this can be taken literally as there is a surplus of water in the tale), while Debra Brown and Caitlin Maggs share credit for the precise Acrobatic choreography.

Though the show's the thing, it's worth mentioning that the food concessions at Amaluna are paltry, low-quality and overpriced. Why the presenters couldn't have provided a tasty box-meal option, as in Cirque shows past is beyond me. But edibles aside, Amaluna is a feast for the senses, and with Valentine's Day looming might be just the ticket for incurable romantics.

Amaluna performances will run through March 17 at King County's Marymoor Park in Redmond. Tickets are available online at www.cirquedusoleil.com.



- David Edward Hughes



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