Review: Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Paramour’ at Lyric Theater

By Jonathan Spira on 2 February 2017
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When I think of Cirque du Soleil, I see daring young men flying through the air on a trapeze, different circus acts (minus the animals), continuous music, and never a dull or boring moment.

Two previous Cirque shows, “Banana Shpeel” and “Zarkana,” after failing to gain traction, quietly left the big tent in the Big Apple in 2010 and 2012 respectively. As a result, the company invested heavily in its new production, “Paramour.”

I didn’t know what to expect from “Paramour” at the Lyric Theater. The latest opus of what is the largest theatrical producer in the world is its first Broadway musical, but it simply comes off confused.

Before the show started, I wondered how combining the two genres – the acrobatic feats of a circus performance with the traditional plot, characters, and tunes of a musical – could possibly work.

The answer soon became apparent: it didn’t.

Indeed, as events unfolded, I discovered that blending circus and musical theater made almost no sense. The producers gave it their best (gasp!) by featuring daring feats, a rather thin plot, a theme (the “Golden Age” of Hollywood), and a supersized budget of $25 million (roughly twice that of Hamilton). What could possibly go wrong?

The answer is a lot.

The first 30 or so minutes were painful. Instead of the period music that the orchestra was playing, I kept hearing The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” There were no acrobatics or anything that one would associate with a Cirque du Soleil spectacle and there was no real plot to speak of.

Officially, there is a plot, but one may miss it in a blink. There’s a lecherous Hollywood director, AJ Golden, played by a bearded Jeremy Kushnier; an aspiring actress named Verna, whom AJ renames Indigo, played just right by Ruby Lewis making her Broadway debut; Verna’s boyfriend and collaborator Joey (Ryan Vona); and AJ’s assistant and former starlet, Gina (Sarah Meahl). That’s just about all one needs to know.

No amount of dazzling acrobatics – even the outstanding scenes by aerialist twins Andrew and Kevin Atherton – can save a musical with a banal and predictable plot and extremely generic sounding songs that made me pine for the good old days of Muzak. The only scene I enjoyed was the last– not merely because it presaged the end of the show and I’d get to leave, but because it was genuinely enjoyable. Thanks to a colorful and very acrobatic chase sequence, which finds AJ and his entourage decked out in colorful zoot suits that evoked reruns of the 1960s show “Batman,” the show finally made some sense. However, it was too little and too late.

Had the entire show been more like the final scene I’m certain “Paramour” could have been incredible, rather than forgettable.

THE DETAILS

Lyric Theater
213 W 42nd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
www.cirquedusoleil.com

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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