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Monday July 28th 2014

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Saltimbanco thrills Pensacola audience

By Shelby Smithey…

Pensacola may have waited over 20 years for Cirque Do Soleil, but it was well worth the wait. Its longest-running production, “Saltimbanco,” in its final tour achieved the perfect mixture of acrobatics, comedy and theatrical grandiosity at its show last night at the Pensacola Bay Center.

Set in a colorful world complete with dancers, contortionists and clowns, the two and half hour show packed in enough excitement and awe to make even the most impassive guest gasp at least once.

The stage was bright but not distracting, and one of the best parts of the show was the fact that it was complemented with live music and vocals. A five-piece band including guitars, keyboard, drums and even a saxophone really made the eclectic songs come alive alongside the characters.

“Saltimbanco” had two acts with a brief intermission between the two. The first act featured the Chinese poles, contortion acts, juggling and clowning. The first act also represented the beginning of the characters, called “worms.” Most of the troupe members wore the same brightly-colored bodysuits this act to signify that they are all the same.

We were also introduced to the main characters in the first act. Each one has a bold and unforgettable personality. The Ringmaster was a jolly man in a bright yellow and green suit and walking stick. He guides the show with The Dreamer. The Dreamer is a much tinier character, wearing a striped blue jumper with a curly tail. These two periodically make jokes in between stunts, and the banter between the two (albeit in an invented language) is truly entertaining.

By the second act, the characters are no longer “worms.” They have their own personalities and have their own unique costumes. The second act is also more fast-paced than the first act.

The clowning act was a stand-out performance and the audience participation made it unforgettable. Wearing a red cap and suspenders, Eddie the clown is best described as a mix between a clown and a mime. In the second act, Eddie the clown grabbed a willing audience member to join him on stage. He played a fun game of copycat with the man, and it was exciting to see how much he got into it. Before long, Eddie the clown was getting the man to do tumblesets on stage and pretending like he had just been shot in a mock duel.
The Russian swing also stood out as an exciting act. Imagine a tower of three men standing on each other’s’ shoulders, while a fourth catapults himself from a swing 20 or 30 feet into the air to land on top. Seeing these acrobats flung that high into the air without harnesses was breathtaking. The final performance was the bungee act, where four performers are bounced up and down attached to a bungee, while doing flips and weaving between each other.

“Saltimbanco” is in essence a show about what the human body is capable of, and this common theme is showcased in an aura of lights, music and theatrics. Stunts and amazing feats are what to be expected from Cirque du Soleil, but “Saltimbanco” last night proved to be more comedic and fun in nature than expected.

“Saltimbanco” really does have a little bit for everyone and the details in the show set it apart from any other production of its kind. The colorful costumes, solid uniformity
and music combined with the stunts made it just as fun and entertaining as it was awe-inspiring. Although the show is making its final curtain call next month, the dazzling imagery and dreamlike world of “Saltimbanco” will still leave an impression on those who got to see it.