Published on June 13th, 2016 | by Greg0
A Whole New Cirque: Paramour, Now On Broadway
Bringing anything to Broadway is a major risk and a huge challenge. Whether a modern musical revue or a one-man drama show, the production costs can be immense and require a careful balancing act between something familiar and risky. Too little of one, and it could be boring, and if you go too far in the other direction it may feel alienating. Which is to say: combining circus arts to narrative musical theater is interesting, and a sensible expansion to one of the bigger entertainment franchises not owned by Disney.
The latest from Cirque du Soleil is their new Broadway show Paramour, a lavish, spell-binding, and at times, preposterous feat. Styled after a classic musical with similar act breaks and featuring fairly major actors in speaking roles, there is a narrative and a story and even- gasp- English dialogue. The principal characters are the hardened but optimistic director AJ (Jeremy Kushnier); the aspiring singer from Indiana, Indigo (Ruby Lewis); and the lonely piano man, Joey (Ryan Vona). And the story is a well-trod path, with a director aiming to mold young Indigo into a starlet while attempting to woo her while the artist attempts to do the same. The exhausting love triangle is only made better by the aerial ballet that features acrobats wearing matching costumes to our actor threesome and the love letter to classic film.
Imagined and directed by Philippe Decouflé, most scenes are dazzling. They’ll often feature constant juggling and contortion and roller skating in the background, sometimes all three at the same time, with fairly jazzy showtunes livening things up. And while the acrobatics are the reason this show can be so awe-inspiring, they are also the reason it fails as a Broadway musical- the circus arts typically steal the show, leaving us a bit disappointed when the plot took center stage again. You’ll be transported and impressed by the stage work and scenery, thanks to wonderful set design, disguising climbable poles as street lights and adding hidden trapezes in the chandeliers. And, like some other Cirques that we’ve seen, the bar is set high early on.
The first part made us hold our breath with contortion, aerial acts above the audience, and the majority of the singing numbers while the second act left more to be desired and felt a bit more uneven. The trampoline scene towards the finale was one I was dying to see, but ended up being long-winded. A few highlights that nonetheless make Paramour worth the love: a living filmstrip with gorgeous choreography, a pair of stunning aerialist twins, Calamity Jane and Cleopatra numbers, and in proper tradition there is even a clown. The show is dark on Wednesday, and runs each weeknight and twice daily on weekends, at the Lyric Theater- tickets are available now, online and direct, from $69-$227 and up.