FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Mongolian Angels, Byambatsetseg Jigengombo, top, and Davaasuren Altantsetseg, perform aerial acrobatics.
Cirque is on
After delays, the entertaining show has a few minor glitches
THERE are two ways to look at the delay of opening night for Cirque Hawaii: Either the producers did not have enough faith in the performers early on or the higher-ups were giving the cast a chance to get more comfortable in their routines before the official presentation.
"Sneak Preview" dress rehearsals
» Place: Former IMAX Theatre, 325 Seaside Ave.
» Time: 6:30 & 8:30 p.m. every night, except Wednesdays
» Tickets: $55 reserved seating ($42 children 3 to 11 years of age), $65 preferred seating ($49.50 children), and $75 VIP seating ($57 children), with special packages available
» Call: 922-0017
Originally set to open in early December before the holidays, the premiere has been bumped more than a few times, and now has been tentatively pushed back to February.
Any reasons for the delay, as evidenced on a quiet Sunday night, are not on the part of the performers, but in the stage design, a few missed automated-music cues, as well as a poorly set up opening skit. The producers should use this time to clear up those problems because the performers are at the top of the learning curve and it's not likely there will be much discernible change between now and opening night for the cast.
The largest problem for Cirque Hawaii is its location, the former IMAX Theatre in Waikiki. Performers are dwarfed in the cavernous space where the movie screen was once located, and it's uncomfortable to literally look down on the mini-sized performers, trying their best to entertain the audiences from several rows below.
When built-ons on either side of the stage are used, with performers from previous skits dancing in the cubby hole spaces and along the light rigging, the integration between the changing cast members is seamless and interesting. But another reminder that this space was once a movie theater is the snack bar to the side and name-tagged greeters at the stage doors. (You half-expect to hear one of them saying "third door to your right.") Also, if a few of the new seats had been scaled away from the theater, it would be more comfortable for audience members, who are squashed in like sardines at $55 a pop or more for adults.
As for the show itself, there may have been a stumble or two, but that's to be expected with a live production. But a lackluster skit in which a mugging clown passes a ball back and forth between himself and the audience doesn't really hint at what's to come, or his true talents, which are later shown in his buffoonery with the rest of the cast.
The audience, however, that partly filled the theater at one of the sneak previews were in the mood to laugh at the clown from the start, as both children and adults oohed and ahhed over the tumblers and contortionists' routines.
While Cirque Hawaii may be the brainchild of a few Cirque du Soleil past or present members, this is not a Las Vegas show. It's a good show overall, and with nothing else in town of this sort, it doesn't have any competition.
There are many lovely things to Cirque Hawaii to consider: beautiful costumes, amazing individual and group performances, and good accompanying music. Just don't go in and expect something of the caliber of an "O."