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 by Eugene Paul


Cirque du Soleil, the enchanting sidewalks of Quebec entertainers now grown into enchanting most of the globe with a staff of 4200 magicians, has launched a broadside at Broadway, regrettably shooting itself in the foot, not enough to kill it but hobbling it at what it does best: thrilling us. 


The thrills are still there, superb, dazzling, deliciously chilling in their daring and artistry but the attempt at a dramatic story is a klunker no matter how gorgeously dressed and cleverly staged.  Then again, when you get right down to it, peacock tastes like chicken.  Or turkey.


Turkey, Paramour is not.  There’s too much good, even extraordinary, in the show, almost all of it their specialties that have made them the greatest circus of humans in the world.  Their acrobats, their tumblers, their aerialists, their  choreographers weaving unique, wondrous specialties  culled from the finest of physical artists, from hundreds of countries.  And they all work together!  Perhaps we ought to put them in charge of the world.


Ruby Lewis, Jerome Kushnier, Ryan Vona        photos by Joan Marcus


For Broadway, however, the creative tem headed by Jean –Francois Bouchard have chosen a love triangle on which to hang their honors.  It is a venerable story in a nostalgic mold, pulp fiction of the early decades in Hollywood, a sort of flexible, never-never land running from the likes of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin to Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson and Marilyn Monroe.  Movie producer, director, tyrant A.J (Jerome Kushnier) falls for ingénue singer, dancer nobody Indigo(Ruby Lewis) who loves composer, singer, Joey (Ryan Vona). Aiding and abetting are Robbie (very good Bret Shuford), Gina (very good Sarah Meahl), Lila (Kat Cunning) and fifty-three others.  They are meant to blend with and include some of the most extraordinary Cirque du Soleil acts. They don’t.  They are completely upstaged by their wondrous circus acts.


Ryan Vona and cast


A.J. is determined to make Indigo a star. Twenty-nine costume changes later (thank you costume designer Philippe Guillotel and nimble staff)) A.J. succeeds. Whereupon he intends to marry her, manage her, own her.  But she and Joey are in love, alas.  Hoorah?  Endless eye popping sets (thank you Jean Rabasse)  from superb Art Deco to shlock Western and shlock Egyptian movie stages, pageantry, hoedowns, pomp to hee haw (thank you conceiver/director Philippe Decoufle).



Joey and Indigo attempt to  elope, fleeing over roof tops (superb trampoline acrobats in pursuit wearing  comedy gangster outfits and colors) galumphing to an awkward ending.


How to resolve this mismatch of mismatches?  It would be sinful not to mention Pierre Masse’s rock solid rigging designer’s contribution to the breathtaking aerialists, the Atherton Twins, Kevin and Andrew, who fly out over the huge Lyric theatre, patrons inches from them screaming their joy, most of all the extraordinary aerialists enacting the A.J.-Joey-Indigo triangle over their heads in more ways than one. And many other small and large circus wonders, all miraculously performed, even falling off the stage to gasps.  Bob and Bill’s music could be more memorable but it’s serviceable.

Somehow you know that the Cirque du Soleil team will solve that Broadway misstep handsomely.  Certainly, a cheering, frenetic audience crowed their appreciation regardless of the fact that the circus fantasy and the Hollywood fantasy compete on a Broadwy stage.  May the magic of a company that works together show the way.



Paramour. At the Lyric Theatre, 213 West 42nd Street near Broadway.  Tickets: $55-$343. 2hrs, 15 min. 212-556-4750.  Open run.