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Concert Reviews:
"OVO" is Cirque du Soleil at its arena-sized best

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Friday, December 23, 2016

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DETROIT -- Like any Cirque du Soleil production, there are moments during "OVO" where you feel like you've pulled a muscle just watching the performers' seemingly impossible contortions and physical manipulations.

Fortunately they move on to some other crazy, indescribable feat quick enough to help you get over it.

"OVO," which is at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena through Christmas day, is not just the latest of Cirque's arena-sized spectacles. It's arguably the best. Unlike high concept pieces such as "Toruk," "Delirium" or even the MIchael Jackson-themed "Immortalized," the family-friendly "OVO" focuses on fun and "wow" factor. It's about those crazy, jaw-dropping "stunts" that seem like they can only be done by Cirque performers, with a loose narrative conducted by clowns Jan Dutler (The Foreigner), Michelle Matlock (The Ladybug) and Gonzalo Munoz Ferrer (Master Flipo).

"OVO's" theme is best described as The Secret Life of Bugs, a look at what human eyes might miss in the tall grass, bushes and trees. That of course means buying into the idea of scarabs as trapeze artists such as the high-flying Russian Cradle or ants who can juggle kiwi and corn on the cob -- and each other -- with their feet. Kyle Cragle's Dragonfly and Ariunsanaaa Baata's White Spider dazzle with body balancing, the latter folding herself over 90 degrees while holding herself up by her teeth, and Christoffer Johnson's Creatura is an oversized costumed delight.

"OVO" also holds true to the Cirque tradition of one act being more incredible than the other, and the show wends with decided one-two punch. Jianming Qiu's Blackwire's tightrope tricks include pedaling a unicycle with his hands while balancing with his mouth, and team of crickets use trampoline and gymnastic pads to flip and launch themselves up a 25-foot vertical wall.

Playing to a cut-down arena, maybe about a third of the usual house, "OVO" also features the usual trippy Cirque music and interactive moments with performers traipsing through the crowd, and one patron brought on stage for a comic interlude. It's lighthearted, breezy (though perhaps a bit too long for very young children) and fascinating from start to finish -- all the things anyone can want from Cirque du Soleil at its best.

Cirque du Soliel "OVO"

December 22-25.

Joe Louis Arena, 19 Steve Yzerman Drive, Detroit.

Tickets are $44-$110.

Call 313-471-6611 or visit olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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