Cirque Du Soleil's Kooza Wows Opening Night in Toronto

Cirque du Soleil's Kooza
Grand Chapiteau, Portlands, Toronto, ON
August 9, 2007
Cirque du Soleil's latest phenomenon Kooza recently took to the big top in Toronto with anticipation of where the famed circus troupe would take us next. The location of the Grand Chapiteau had moved from its former placement near Ontario Place and now resides in the Portlands off Cherry Street. It's a great location, but the parking system should be more managed as there was only one entrance and exit for the entire audience and ironically enough, it made things difficult for the Tapis Rouge VIPs (closest to the tent, instead of the exit) to get out with true VIP swiftness. Aside from that and the expensive snacks ($5 for a hot dog!) and unique Cirque du Soleil gifts one could buy as you entered the blue and yellow striped Grand Chapiteau, it was an elegant and fun atmosphere. As we found our seats, I couldn't help but notice all of the Canadian celebrities that had come out to see the show on opening night: ballerina Karen Kain, Chum Television's Moses Znaimer, singer Sarah Slean, and Kids in the Hall actor Mark McKinney were all seated around us and it added to the surrealism of the performance.

The Kooza story is inspired by the name "koza" which is Sanskrit for "treasure" or "chest" and Cirque du Soleil chose it to bring the idea of having circus in a box. The show combines death defying acrobatics and slapstick clowning and this time even included a live band and singers to compliment the treasure chest experience. It opens with a little boy (actually a small man) flying his kite with spotlights drizzling in like sunlight through trees in a forest, the chest is revealed and then suddenly turns into a much larger revealed treasure chest which is reminiscent of the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge complete with ornate eastern influenced costumes and Bangra music. A Jack in the Box pops out and a real man pops out of the "jack" shell and then there's the puppet master Mr. Twisty guy whose hairdo looks like a colourful ice cream cone who controls all of the happenings inside the chest. The three contortionists were incredible, they were like bendy straws and one of the most incredible sequences was when one of the girls lay on her stomache and brought her legs back over her shoulders and to the ground and then had them skip around the front of her body and around back in a circle, like the bottom half of her body wasn't even attached! In between was the slapstick humour of a crazy king who looked like the doctor from Back to the Future and Jim Carrey's Lemony Snicket combined. His two kids, a large man dressed as a child and a hyper man also dressed as a child took volunteers up on stage and played with them. That was a great portion of the show, the audience involvement. Although at one point, a lady's seat about 4 rows behind us was raised very high and I saw terror in her face as they kept her up there for quite some time, hopefully she's not scared to go to the circus again! The drummer and singers are exceptionally talented, with a drum solo lasting almost 5 minutes and the singers smooth and rich vocals giving an almost musical theatre experience to Kooza.

The acrobatics were also incredible, as they biked and skipped on tightropes and my favourite, doing flips on stilts (even on one stilt!), skeletons playing their bones like a tap dancer, and the juggler who tossed about 10 Aerobees in the air and never dropped one÷the list is far too numerous. What I can say is this, Cirque du Soleil always puts on a well crafted mystical story with some of the best athletes and entertainers in the business and their shows are always different; Kooza is highly recommended from our experience.

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Writer: Lindsay Whitfield

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