Cirque du Soleil: Banana Spheel

Cirque de Soleil Banana Spheel image

Story Don Graham
Photos Dominique Lemieux/Cirque de Soleil

I have to start by admitting that when I was first presented with this task I was not sure what to expect. I knew the show had trouble in Chicago, got revamped for New York, where the reception and reviews were much better, and here it was at the Canon Theatre in downtown Toronto. Cirque and vaudeville? Seemed like strange bedfellows so I was interested to see what the result would be.

While standing in the crowd waiting to be let into the theatre, there was a commotion behind us as a gentleman was pushing his way through the crowd yelling something about needing the washroom. He REALLY seemed liked he had go, but once he got to the front of the room he turned and flashed a big grin and we knew he was part of the show. Turned out he was Claudio Carneiro, a big part on the ensemble. But more on him later.

The opening dialogue between the two hosts, well-played by the aggressive Daniel Passer and the hard-done by, Wayne Wilson sets the stage for the evening ahead. Lots of sight gags and slapstick humour. And the stage is set as well, for The Schmelky Spectacular, the role of the hardnosed arrogant boss, Schmeckly, excellently played by Danny Rutigliano. His assistant Margaret played by Shereen Hickman, has great comedic timing and offsets Schmelky’s brashness.

The show kicks off with an amazing act, Vanessa Alvarez , a “foot juggler” who had folks on the edge of their seats. An accomplished juggler, Tuan Lee follows juggling, at one time, six hats. Now back to aforementioned Claudio Carneiro. In the “Canada’s Got Talent” segment, Carneiro makes his appearance as a man who does an impression of ‘an ordinary person with knee problems.” He takes a step and yells “Ow!” And so on. All predictable, but nonetheless funny.

Next is the hilarious Gordon White, the World’s Oldest Mime. You get the picture. Finally the third contestant is The Modern Dancer played by Patrick de Valette. He is the funniest of them all, with his long stringy hair, big spectacles and a trench coat that of course opens to reveal his red BVDs as he prances around the stage, to the delight of all.

There are of course the obligatory Asian contortionists featuring three incredible sisters who wowed the audience. The live band was incredible. That is a very tough gig playing a show like that where timing is everything and sightlines are not always the best for the band, so charts are essential.

My hat’s off to the entire band and especially the drummers. The sets, Patricia Reek, costumes, Dominique Lemieux and lighting, Bruno Rafie and the direction of David Shiner, all added to the experience.
If you’re going to Banana Spheel expecting to see a regular Cirque de Soleil show you are in for a surprise, but a pleasant one. As my guest said after the show said, she hasn’t laughed that hard in years.

Send in the clowns and enjoy the show!
Cirque de Soleil Banana Spheel
The Canon Theatre Toronto Ontario
September 18 – 29 2010
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