Cirque du Soleil
Director and Conceiver: Philippe Decouflé
Creative Guide and Creative Director:
President and Managing Director -
Cirque du Soleil Theatrical: Scott Zeiger
Composers: Bob & Bill
(Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard)
Lyricist & Co-Composer: Andreas Carlsson
Music Director / Band Leader: Seth Stachowski
Music Coordinator: Howard Joines
Jeremy Kushnier, Ruby Lewis, Ryan Vona
Bret Shuford, Sarah Meahl, Kat Cunning
And an ensemble of acrobats/gymnasts/singers/dancers
213 West 42nd Street
Set Designer: Jean Rabasse
Costume Designer: Philippe Guillotel
Choreographer: Daphné Mauger
Flying Machine Design & Choreography: Verity Studios
Lighting Designer: Patrice Besombes / Howell Binkley
Projection Designers: Olivier Simola / Christophe Waksmann
Sound Designer: John Shivers
Acrobatic Performance Designer: Boris Verkhovsky
Rigging & Acrobatic Equipment Designer: Pierre Masse
Makeup Designer: Nathalie Gagné
Hair Designer: Josh Marquette
Props Designer: Anne-Séguin Poirier
Artistic Director / Acrobatic Coach: Eric Heppell
Casting New York: Telsey + Company / Cesar A, Rocha, CSA
General Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown
Marketing: Kristina Heney
Technical Supervisor: David Benken
Production Stage Manager: Claudette Waddle
General Manager: Bespoke Theatricals
Executive Producer: Jayna Neagle
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 2, 2016
If you like gravity-defying acrobatics, amidst tons of sparkling lights, a cops-and-robbers love saga between a sexy singer, her piano player, and her devious boss, and songs that fly by as magicians toss hoops and somersault onto tabletops, then Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour is for you. And, to add gloss to gloss, the Lyric Theatre on 42nd Street has now been dolled up with restored beige-grey-gold-bronze sculpted facades, paint, carpet, murals, and deco décor, everywhere. This is a show that has something for everyone, the kids, the grandparents, out of town tourists, teens, and those with a sixth sense. That sixth sense will help you focus your peripheral vision on a comedic romantic plot and circus entertainers, who dress more provocatively than the characters they’re doubling, while they climb up and down ropes, catapult onto each other’s heads and shoulders, and swing widely from the rafters.
Yes, there are two shows here. The basic awe-inspiring, magnificently professional, dramatic-charismatic-acrobatic circus acts and a cute, charming, melodic, cartoonish, Golden Age of Hollywood love story. My suggestion, restage the athletic show and storyline and requisite tap dance interlude so they don’t overlap, but rather expand and enhance each other. Make the cirque dance doubles a “dream scene”, just for them in the moment, make the love triangle sequences feature spotlighted solos in uncluttered, evocative dimness, then do the same for the intertwining twins who sinuously slide up and down moving cables, from the roof to the stage, and sometimes toward the audience.
Jeremy Kushnier, as AJ, Hollywood Golden Age Director, is aggressive, determined, and possessed by his new starlet, Indigo (Ruby Lewis), whom he discovered in a low-down bar in Los Angeles, singing tunes to her boyfriend Joey’s (Ryan Vona) piano. AJ was serendipitously smitten and made his move to have Indigo for his films and his bedroom, and so it goes. All three actors were well cast, Broadway-ready, and vocally exceptional. AJ’s best moments were in Mr. Kushnier’s astute gestural nuance, exuding seething jealousy and imminent revenge. One of Indigo’s best scenes was at the end of Act I, during the Movie Poster Montage, when Ms. Lewis posed as Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra”, then jumped into a scene from “Calamity Jane’. Joey’s best sequence, at the show’s finale, end of Act II, has Joey and Indigo dashing across New York City hotel and building rooftops, along with AJ’s tough guys in dark suits trying to grab the gal back for the boss. Some of this reminded me of the Spiderman show that recently struggled through a short Broadway shelf life, but even Spiderman stuck to the story. I loved the story and plot and Hollywood throwback posters come to life, and even the rooftop dash. I kept seeing this theme extrapolated into a smaller, new show. “Everything” (The Lovers’ Theme), “Help a Girl Choose”, “AJ’s Blues” were all tuneful and poignant, sung with drama, force, and tonal clarity, thanks to composers, Bob & Bill (Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard), with lyrics and co-composing by Andreas Carlsson.
I also loved the tap, acrobatics, and juggling, with Daphné Mauger choreographing a superb, old-styled Hollywood, filmatic tap sequence, with Jean-François Bouchard, Creative Guide and Creative Director and Philippe Decouflé, Director and Conceiver, adding high-flying jumps, somersaults, headstands, en air twirls, tumbles, and leaps, and some entertaining hoop juggling that flew by my eye. But it was way too visually distracting to add this super-dynamic to the stage, amidst the spirited, but age-old storyline. A stunning and breathtaking highlight of the Cirque acrobatics was a sequence by identical twins, Andrew and Kevin Atherton. They’re on duo strap-lines, plunging from the rafters, grabbing onto each other’s torso or feet, switching places in the air, dipping to and fro in miraculous fluidity. They drew immediate accolades, but there was no storyline attached. That’s why the plot could have used a show within a show, a dream sequence and the old-fashioned inner show that’s part of the plot. Just fragmenting the Hollywood plot to throw in the Cirque acts was far from adequate.
Seth Stachowski, Music Director and Band Leader, kept the plot tunes and athletic background music flowing seamlessly. Jean Rabasse’s sets were especially exquisite in the Hollywood poster segment, as well as in the rooftop chase. Philippe Guillotel’s costumes for the romantic-double, acrobatic act and for Indigo’s reincarnation of Cleopatra were shimmery and stunning. Projection Designers, Simola/Waksmann, added eye-catching throwbacks in the lovely poster sequence, but those posters need to be front, center, and not diminished by overstocking the stage. Kudos to the cast, who performed with energy, personality, and skill, throughout, amidst the flying men, women, and objects in such precarious proximity. And kudos to those acrobats and athletes, who took such heart-stopping risks in real time.