Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Archive - Friday, 27 April 2012
Find by date
Other ways to search
Also look for
Cirque du Ciel: ShangHi, Grand Opera House, York, May 2-3
CIRQUE du Ciel’s acrobatic fantasy adventure, ShangHi, visits the Grand Opera House, York, for the first time on Wednesday and Thursday at 7.30pm.
Boy foot juggling in Cirque de Ciel
Originally directed in China by Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Caron, who also oversaw the multi-million dollar productions of Dralion and Ka, the show has been reworked as a family spectacle for British audiences.
ShangHi now features 30 decadently costumed performers in two hours of death-defying acrobatics, modern dance and martial arts, all wrapped up in an enchanting storyline.
“The story centres around a little girl who awakes to the sound of a noisy Shanghai street,” says producer Stephen Leatherland. “In a half-dreamy state, she starts to imagine being an acrobat and gets taken into the world of the acrobat and begins to participate.”
Stephen went to China in 2010 to facilitate ShangHi’s transfer to Britain.
“I not only saw the show in its original format but also worked with the Chinese performers on starting to make some changes to make the storyline more prominent,” he says.
The revamped show toured Britain last autumn and was so popular that this year’s tour was soon put in place. “The response was absolutely incredible,” says Stephen. “The show received five-star reviews from all the critics and we had audience members returning to see it for a second time the following evening.”
Analysing ShangHi’s success, he says: “Quite simply, there’s not been anything like this in Britain before. A lot of the show is aerial-based, so we have a girl who performs with beautiful aerial silks; two girls who perform on hoops and do everything that you would expect to see on a trapeze; and the climax is the Chinese Monkey Poles routine, which sees ten guys climb them at an amazing speed and perform various feats. It really is absolutely breathtaking and it makes me scared, as the producer, in case they sustain any serious injuries.”
Have any of the acts ever gone wrong? “Not dangerously so, but sometimes they have to repeat a segment. However it’s done so seamlessly that the audience wouldn’t even know,” says Stephen, a former actor who has brought his 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry to ShangHi.
“When I saw the show in China, for me, the one thing that was missing was the story,” says Stephen. “The little girl was there and was introduced, initially, but then you never saw her again in that capacity.
“I wanted to take the audience on a journey through the mysterious dreams of the little girl, as she delves into her fantasies.”
The production now boasts more than 500 costumes, intricate scenery, evocative lighting and a score that enhances the magical aura of the show.
“The ambience for each performance must be perfect,” says Stephen. “We’ve broken off a spectacular slice of Chinese culture and transported it all the way to the UK. From the moment you enter the theatre, you enter another world where we guarantee to get your pulses racing and your jaws dropping.”
As well as such routines as Mexican hat juggling, synchronised diabolo demonstrations and the curiously named “Boy foot juggling”, the show will entertain the York audience in a “host of different ways”.
The word is spreading, resulting in the producer receiving inquiries from as far afield as Scandinavia and the Middle East. “The level of interest has been quite extraordinary. So much so that we’ve now engaged the services of an international promoter,” says Stephen, who has one ambition he would most like to fulfil.
“I want to take Cirque du Ciel: ShangHi to Las Vegas.” Given the show’s rapid progress, don’t bet against it happening.
• Cirque du Ciel: ShangHi, Grand Opera House, York, Wednesday and Thursday, 7.30pm. Tickets update: still available on 0844 871 3024 or atgtickets.com/york