Circus school director Laurie Allen knows circus acts. She can easily spot a miscue, a missed step, or an acrobat’s fumble. Yet, when she watched Odysseo, the new offering from the folks whose show Cavalia has been thrilling audiences for years, she loses all critical perspective. “I’m bowled over,” she said today, after watching a media premiere of the show, which opens Wednesday in Miami.
“When I first saw Cavalia, I sat there in tears at the magnificence of the horses, the way they interacted with the trainers, everything. It’s breathtaking, literally. You gasp and hold your breath,” said Allen, who runs North Miami’s South Florida Circus Arts School.
The show, which is under the world’s biggest Big Top (you use a lot of superlatives when discussing anything about Odysseo), is designed to be even bigger, better, and more breathtaking than Cavalia, which is currently on an extended run in Seattle. Odysseo, though, offers even more spectacle, thanks to 50 performers (up from 31), 71 horses (up from 50).
The show brings to life Cavalia creator Normand Latrouelle’s vision of a magical world, in which horses can streak, gallop and prance freely across the football field-sized stage, in the company of a contingent of trick riders, acrobats and aerialists.
The show is not carefully plotted, but instead provides glimpses of a global panorama, with visits to Mongolia, Mounument Valley, Africa, Norway, and even the Sahara desert and Easter Island. And as the scenes change, so does time and weather. Sunshine gives way to billowing clouds, and day turns into a night ablaze with shooting stars.
As this was only a 55-minute media preview, only scenes of the show were shown, but the audience was won over in the first five mintues. Two segments especially deserve special notice for sheer brilliance. One was a dreamy sequence, in which a life-sized jewel of a merry-go-round appeared on stage, studded with acrobats and aerialists. In the second showstopper, a virtual waterfall emptied into a real pond that suddenly appeared, providing water for the horses to caper around, splash, and even steal a drink.
“Even though I created the show, every time I see the horses and the riders, I get goose bumps, Latourelle told the audience, as the audience members jumped to their feet to give both the human and equine performers a standing ovation.
The people-horse connection thrilled Laurie Allen as well. “If you watch the horses with their riders, you can see the love and respect there. And as each of the horses came to the center of the stage, they turned to the audience. They knew they were taking their bows. Each of these horses knows he’s a superstar.”
Such spectacle does not come cheap; ticket prices range from $49.50 to $199.50, depending on seating and perks, and there are discounts for children, teens and seniors. But the production values are high and the show unforgettable.
Odysseo opens Feb. 29 for a limited engagement under the Big Top in Bicentennial Park.
More info: Odysseo
Text © Charlotte Libov, Photo © Henry Perez