×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Broadway Review: Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Paramour’

With:
Jeremy Kushnier, Ruby Lewis, Ryan Vona, Bret Shuford, Sarah Meahl, Kat Cunning, Andrew Atherton, Kevin Atherton.

Somebody should have warned Cirque du Soleil Theatrical that it would be an iffy business trying to bring Broadway to Broadway. “Paramour” is an ambitious departure from the company’s tried-and-true spectacle formula, in that it observes the structural conventions of a legit Broadway musical. The show has a book (corny), a score of show tunes (mindless), and a cast of singing and dancing actors playing recognizable character roles. More happily, it also has those aerialists, acrobats, jugglers, and tumblers we love — and plenty of spectacle.

One company tradition still holds: The sensational design elements immediately knock you right between the eyes. The aesthetic is the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s, which translates visually into an explosion of gilded bas-relief sculptural art and geometric wall patterns with more rigid right angles than the Republican Party platform. The stylized sets (by Jean Rabasse) use stacks of stairs to set up glittering scenes in nightclubs and penthouses and speakeasies and movie sets. And the extravagant costumes (by Philippe Guillotel) cling to supple bodies like molten gold.

The book sticks to its stolid task of creating a romantically tragic Hollywood tale of pride, ambition, possessive love and a lust for power. The tyrannical A.J. Golden (Jeremy Kushnier), acknowledged to be “the world’s greatest director,” is determined to create the world’s greatest motion picture and make a star of his protegee, a cafe singer named Indigo (Ruby Lewis, a big belter).  (“She’s my muse / My grand inspiration” goes one of the prosaic lyrics.) That’s all the excuse the creatives need to unreel a series of vignettes, starring Indigo and recalling movieland’s greatest love stories, from “Mata Hari” to “Casablanca.”

To make this plot summary mercifully brief, the film is a great success, Indigo becomes a star. But when A.J. resolves to marry her and make them both immortal, Indigo finally rebels.

Meanwhile the usual assortment of brilliant body artists are doing their thing in the background. On occasion, smart connections are made between the stage acts and the movie romance. When the principals go to a speakeasy, waiters flip themselves around poles and dash by on roller skates, while diners perform tricky acrobatic turns on the cafe tables. In the same vein, a lively troupe of tumblers capture all the fun and high spirits of a thrilling chase sequence staged atop the New York building skyline.

A few of these visually connective acts are even more substantive. At the climactic moment when Indigo must choose between the man she loves and the man who has made her a star, her dilemma is reflected in a breathtaking “Love Triangle” danced to the tune of a sexy tango by three aerialists suspended in mid-air.  And while it doesn’t exactly parallel a specific book scene, a jaw-dropping high-wire act performed by the phenomenal twin aerialists, Andrew and Kevin Atherton, is more authentically beautiful and sensually alluring than any of the claptrap going on below.

Popular on Variety

Broadway Review: Cirque du Soleil's 'Paramour'

Lyric Theater; 1897 seats; $149 top. Opened May 25, 2016. Reviewed May 24. Running time: TWO HOURS, 15 MIN.

Production: A Cirque du Soleil Theatrical production of a musical in two acts, conceived by Philippe Decouflé, with lyrics by Andreas Carlsson and music by Bob & Bill, Guy Dubuc and Marc Lesssard.

Creative: Directed by Philippe Decouflé. Creative guide and creative director, Jean-Francois Bouchard. Choreographed by Daphne Mauger. Sets, Jean Rabasse; costumes, Philippe Guillotel; lighting, Patrice Besombes; sound, John Shivers; projections, Olivier Simola and Christophe Waksmann; music director, Seth Stachowski; production stage manager, Claudette Waddle.

Cast: Jeremy Kushnier, Ruby Lewis, Ryan Vona, Bret Shuford, Sarah Meahl, Kat Cunning, Andrew Atherton, Kevin Atherton.

More Legit

  • Stephen Moore

    Stephen Moore, 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' Android, 'Doctor Who' Actor, Dies at 81

    Stephen Moore, best known for his roles as the paranoid android Marvin in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” radio series and the Silurian Eldane in “Doctor Who,” has died. He was 81. “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” producer Dirk Maggs confirmed Moore’s death Saturday on Twitter, writing, “Our dear friend Stephen Moore has [...]

  • Ben Platt Variety Power of New

    Ben Platt on Coming Out and the Queerness of 'The Politician'

    Ben Platt never imagined he would one day star in a series like “The Politician.” “I didn’t think I could be a star of a show in general starting out. I think I was like, ‘I’ll do Broadway. I can be on stage and I can play Jimmy in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and Nathan Detroit [...]

  • Michael Jackson in concert in Milton

    Michael Jackson Musical to Open on Broadway in Summer 2020

    “MJ,” a musical based on the life and career of Michael Jackson, will open on Broadway in summer 2020. Preview performances will start July 6 before its official debut on Aug. 13. The stage show, which will include songs like “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and “Smooth Criminal,” was originally [...]

  • The Wrong Man review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Wrong Man'

    Credit songwriter Ross Golan for the seamless quality of “The Wrong Man,” his mesmerizing musical about a good man who deserves a good life but seems to attract nothing but bad luck. The show’s inventive book, music, and lyrics were all penned by this multi-hyphenate talent who was named 2016 BMI Pop Songwriter of the [...]

  • Kristin Chenoweth Broadway

    Listen: Kristin Chenoweth Wants to Write a Broadway Musical

    Kristin Chenoweth doesn’t just want to star in Broadway musicals. She’s thinking about writing one, too. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I think about it a lot,” Chenoweth said on the latest episode of “Stagecraft,” Variety‘s theater podcast. “I want someone to collaborate with me on a story I have, and it would be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content