On Stage: Cirque du Soleil Stuns with ‘Varekai’

‘Varekai’ dazzles EagleBank Arena audiences with a story full of color and magic. 

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'Varekai' (Photo by Selene San Felice)

‘Varekai’ (Photo by Selene San Felice)

In the world of Varekai, young and old are united to witness the spectacle that is Icarus’ enchanted forest. A story that celebrates mythology weaves itself into the fantastic kaleidoscope full of silly, colorful creatures with fantastic tricks up their sleeves. Running at EagleBank Arena (formerly the Patriot Center) until July 26, Cirque du Soleil brings to town much more than a family-friendly show.

Behind the scenes practice with Cirque du Soleil (Photo by Selene San Felice)

Behind the scenes with Cirque du Soleil (Photo by Selene San Felice)

To nomads and gypsies the word Varekai means “wherever.” Audiences are taken to this place, first with a parade of musicians and an incantation where they are introduced to the creatures of the forest. Here Andrey Kislitsin of Russia makes his premier as the Skywatcher. A mad scientist and troublemaker with a grass waistband, the Skywatcher clashes with The Guide (Rodrigue Proteau of Canada), a black cloaked old man with a light bulb helmet whose mission is to bring about change. The creatures of the forest and their incantation are interrupted by Icarus (Fernando Miro of Puerto Rico) falling from the sky, which leads into one of the many beautiful acrobatic numbers Cirque du Soleil is renowned for. Icarus loses his ability to walk after the fall, and the creatures of the forest take him on a journey through their Japanese tumbling acts, Georgian dancers and acrobatics of every kind. Each act helps Icarus build his strength and takes audience members further into the wonderful land of “wherever.”

'Varekai' (Photo by Selene San Felice)

‘Varekai’ (Photo by Selene San Felice)

Just as beautiful as the acrobatics and dancers are ‘Varekai”s musicians, the Patriarch (Craig Jennings) and the Muse (Isabelle Dansereau Corradi of Canada). Backed by a full band, the musicians fill the arena with a constant symphony just as colorful as their costumes.

While the antics of the Skywatcher and the Guide add a bit of comedic relief, the clowns (played by Emily Carragher and Australia’s Steven Bishop) steal the laughs of the show. The two seem like an ordinary couple, which helps them blend in as they tease and play with audience members before the show, but in the world of Varekai they stick out like sore thumbs.  The clowns salsa dance, seduce and do anything they can to entertain and pull audience members into their world without shame.

'Varekai' (Photo by Selene San Felice)

‘Varekai’ (Photo by Selene San Felice)

The only thing grounding audiences to reality is the smell of beer and the taste of soft serve from EagleBank’s concessions, but no one can escape being dazzled by Varekai’s final act, Russian swing acrobatics which send creatures flipping and soaring through the air from one swing to another. Everyone in EagleBank’s seats, from the top sections to the front row, will leave the arena in awe with senses overloaded and stars in their eyes.

“Varekai” continues through July 26 at the EagleBank Arena, 4400 University Drive. Tickets range from $36-$127 and are available online here.

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