There was plenty of horsing around Saturday afternoon in Irvine as Cavalia Odysseo threw open the flaps of its colossal white tents and laid the red carpet for celebs, dignitaries and even the 65 horses which star in this remarkable theatrical extravaganza.
The show is best described as part Cirque du Soleil, part equine ballet and horse race with political statements tossed in for good measure as a team of mesmerizing gymnast-acrobat-drummers encouraged the audience to repeatedly chant “O walu guere moufan” (which means “no more war on earth” in Guinean).
“I would recommend this show to everybody,” said Sharon Stone, a lifelong horseback riding fan who attended with her two youngest boys. “My son said if you don’t like it, you don’t have a heart.”
Stone, along with celeb guests Wendie Malick, Vivica Fox, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Goran Visnjic and even Cloris Leachman, were treated to a tour of the stables and backstage at the show’s conclusion by Cavalia founder Normand Latourelle.
“When I left Cirque I wanted to do something different and I created Cavalia,” Latourelle said, “but it took me about 10 years.” He laughs as he recalls, “When I started Cavalia I didn’t know anything about horses. Fifteen years ago I could barely tell the difference between a cow and a horse.” He ultimately chose to center his show around the animal because of its ability to connect with all people.
The Montreal-native says he always has future creations in mind, but his next show won’t center on horses or any other animal because, “I don’t think I can ever beat this one and I don’t see my next as a touring show.”
Latourelle said that “amazing” and “beautiful” are the words most people use after seeing the show. As if playing in to his hand, Leachman described Saturday’s matinee as “beautiful,” adding that she wanted a horse when she was 11-years-old, but her parents bought her a bike instead.
Irvine Mayor Steven Choi was in attendance and said he was impressed that the show’s founder was personally on hand welcoming guests to the performance. Choi presented Latourelle with a certificate of recognition from the city at the top of the afternoon perf.