Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cirque du Soleil presents La Nouba

Cirque du Soleil shows are like no others. La Nouba, the new Cirque du Soleil show, created especially for Downtown Disney West Side, is presented in a cylindrical structure with 160 foot metal towers. The 70,000-square-foot theater transfers the look and atmosphere of a circus tent and has seating for 1,670 guests. The show is 90 minutes long and entertains with outrageous costumes, magical lighting, original sets and live music. There are no animals in the show. Cirque du Soleil is not a dinner show. No photography or video taping allowed.

Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba - Official DIS Review
(by Adam Brown):

La Nouba is the current Cirque du Soleil production being showcased at the Cirque du Soleil theatre at Downtown Disney West Side. La Nouba was developed exclusively for this venue and consequently the show's underlying theme is consistent with that of the Walt Disney Word resort. "La Nouba" is French for fun, to party, and to "live it up". All of those words can analogously be used to describe the Walt Disney World resort.

The show, La Nouba, most certainly lives up to what its name implies. Those of you that have seen Cirque du Soleil's other permanently housed productions, such as those in Vegas, will notice that the experience with La Nouba is distinct from the start as the show is presented in its own stand-alone theatre. As you make your way to the theatre at the western-most end of Downtown Disney, the giant spires of the impressive, white "big top" draw you to the base of the building. Here you will find the theatre's gift shop and box office. Should you wish to purchase a souvenir program or CD before you enter the theatre, you be pleased to learn that vendors are located at the base of the theatre (however, their constant, shrill shouting made me wonder if I was about to attend a baseball game, rather than a theatrical experience). After ascending the swooping staircase to the second story entrance into the theatre and having your tickets scanned by the greeter, you will notice the vibrant colors in the theatre carpet, and on the walls. As with many grand productions, you enter into the auditorium by passage through red velvet curtains. The white "big top" theatre at Downtown Disney West Side is as impressive as it has room for 1,671 patrons, which appears to be a little smaller than the theatre at Treasure Island, Las Vegas (at least in my recollection).

Fun Fact: You will notice on the ceiling above the stage, 7 "abstract" forms - those are artistic impressions of artists in motion.

The style of La Nouba is not as elaborate and extravagant as its Las Vegas counterparts (Mystere and "O") in my opinion, but that in itself is part of its charm. The Cirque du Soleil tradition of storytelling through original "new-age" music performed by a live orchestra is every bit as enthralling as the other shows. Interestingly, the orchestra is housed in two multi-level towers on either side of the stage. Again, not your ordinary theatre experience. La Nouba uses dramatic lighting, and sets and stages that move and evolve in different ways than the other Cirque du Soleil shows. You don't have to worry about not having enough to look at while watching La Nouba. Theatrics are always going on in the background of the main act, adding to the spectacle that almost "intoxicates" your senses. On my most recent viewing of La Nouba, my companion passed comment, "at times, I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be looking!"

The individual circus acts are incredible, enjoyable, and truly enthralling for people of all ages. There is one act that stands out in my mind above all. It is a Diablo act that involves four young girls. It may *seem* simple, but the amazing performance presented must require an incredible amount of training and discipline (no spoilers here, but anyone who has seen La Nouba will know what act I am talking about!) In fact, it is evident in the performance that La Nouba demands rigorous mental and physical conditioning on the part of its artists.

Some patrons have commented that La Nouba lacks a powerful finale that the other Cirque du Soleil shows have. I would have to agree with this statement having seen some of their other shows. One must also remember that this show was specifically designed to have a simpler flair than its counterparts. I first saw this show during its premiere week and was told that each night of the week they had presented a different ending. However, having seen the show again recently, I have to be honest and say that I feel the finale is still lacking. What is it lacking? Its lacking some *umph* - the grand in "grand finale" is missing. Regardless and like that to all Cirque du Soleil shows, the audience reaction to La Nouba is consistently thunderous during the performance, concluded with a long and loud standing ovation.

La Nouba
is a WONDERFUL show and I would recommend anyone interested in seeing it to take the time and do so. If it is your first visit to the Walt Disney World resort, there will be plenty of other things to occupy your time. However, if you are looking for a culturally-enriched alternative to the Mouse, or you are on a return trip to the Orlando area, I believe Cirque du Soleil is a must. Would children enjoy this show? I'd say most kids aged 5 and older would enjoy it. Younger than that, they may not be able to appreciate the show (or sit still for the duration!)

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