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July 13, 2011

ShowBizQ:
Cirque Shanghai Gets An 'Extreme' Makeover

BY
MICHAEL J. ROBERTS

Cirque Shanghai Gets An 'Extreme' Makeover
Summer in Chicago would not seem complete without certain events that make our city so unique. Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza, and the outdoor art festivals are a mainstay. Luckily, another event has become a new tradition. The phenomenal Cirque Shanghai once again returns this summer to the Navy Pier Pepsi Skyline Stage, this time with more adrenaline and more spectacular acts then seen in prior visits.

Titled ‘Cirque Shanghai Extreme‘, this company of performers, all hand picked from the finest circus schools in China, are the most talented and spry bunch to date. This family friendly extravaganza is an unexpected treat both visually and financially for young and old alike. Where else can kids get a live circus act, filled with jugglers, tumblers, dancers and dare-devils, many stunts on par with that of Cirque Du Solei, for a mere $15.00? It is definitely the bargain of the summer.

Cirque's ‘Extreme' makeover this year consists of more spectacular performances including an amazing balancing act done with a free standing ladder; hoop divers tumbling over and under each other; an audience participation hat juggling routine and an aerial motorcycle high wire act that floats above the amazed crowd.

Extreme earns its name this year by the daredevil motorcycle troupe "Imperial Thunder" whose jaw dropping routine of four cycles jettison past each other inside a steel sphere is worth the price of admission.

Director Miao Miao Chen keeps the 70 minute production moving at quite a clip and allowing just the right amount of spacing between the various acts, thus allowing the men and women to each have their own moment in the spotlight. Also returning this year is Chicago's favorite choreographer, Brenda Didier (who just won a Jefferson Award for her amazing work in Theo Ubique's "Cats". Didier's work for Cirque Shanghai is key to its success as she is able to extract from the performers a certain showmanship that normally would not be seen in a production of this style. The way the performers act and react with the audience is the work of Ms. Didier and makes the this talented troupe all the more likeable and assessable to their watchers.

"Cirque Shanghai Extreme" plays through September 5, 2011 at the Navy Pier Pepsi Skyline Stage. Tickets range from $15- $32.50 and are available by calling 800-745-3000 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com/shanghai. For more information visit www.cirqueshanghai.com

 
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