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Off-Broadway Review


The creators at Cirque du Soleil maintain consistently high standards of inventiveness and execution. With their new show Kooza, they prove that simple can also be sensational.

Billed as a return to Cirque's origins, Kooza focuses on two key circus traditions: acrobatic performance and the art of the clown. Shaking off the pretensions of shows like Alegría and the Beatles-inspired Love, the show uses a simple but evocative framing device: A young, innocent boy (Stéphan Landry) is out flying a kite and meets a Trickster (Adam Mike Tyus) who introduces him to a variety of marvelous new characters and adventures. That includes a king (a terrific Gordon White) and his two foolish footmen (Christian Fitzharris and Manon Gauthier) and a pickpocket (Lee Thompson). The boy also encounters a marvelous mix of performers doing everything from mind-blowing contortions to more-traditional stunts like tightrope walking, trapeze, and assorted acrobatics—on steroids.

The show has been written and briskly directed by David Shiner, who brings a nice balance of bawdy fun and touching emotion to the performances. A highlight includes the New Orleans–tinged skeleton dance choreographed by Clarence Ford to a vivacious score by Jean-François Côté. The magnificent array of colorful costumes, which serve the dual purpose of being both functional and eye-popping, were designed by Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt.

With Kooza, the Quebec-based troupe adds another success to its long line of entertaining spectacles.

Presented by iShares at Randall's Island Park, NYC. April 23June 21. Tue.–Thu., 8 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 4 and 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 and 5 p.m. (No performance Tue., May 12.) (800) 450-1480 or Casting by Line Giasson.

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