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Friday, Feb. 27, 2009

Clowning around at Cirque du Soleil


By MARIO CASTRO
Special to The Japan Times

For a limited time only, join Cirque du Soleil and its international cast for "Corteo," a magical parade of clowns, acrobats and musicians, imagined by a clown at his funeral. Conceived and directed by veteran writer and choreographer Daniele Finzi Pasca, the show is set between Heaven and Earth, with angels watching over the experience and escorting the Dreamer Clown Mauro from act to act as he enjoys his funeral procession.

News photo
Hanging out: A performer for Cirque du Soleil is suspended by her neck. © CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

Since its inception in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has reinvented circus performance with a dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment. The latest show features 20 acts that range from silly clowns bouncing on beds to a beautiful lady balancing herself on a tightrope while musicians entertain her below to a gymnast balancing himself on several ladders while trying to reach an angel watching from above. Throughout the show, Mauro is joined by his friends, who try to keep him from going to heaven.

The experience is brought together through a live band performing songs by composer and musical director Philippe Leduc that span a variety of genres from different parts of the world. There's flamenco, a violinist and whistler duel, and even comical drum rolls.

The cast speak in French, Italian, English, Spanish and, of course, Japanese, which adds confusion to the callisthenic mayhem. The quirkiness of the characters, the range of acts and the intricate story that Pasca has created combine to surprise audiences. Get there early to enjoy the parade up close as the cast walk through the auditorium.

"Corteo" plays at 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day until May 5 (except Thursdays, March 4 and April 1). Tickets cost ¥5,000-¥13,000 on weekends and national holidays, and ¥4,000-¥12,000 on weekdays. The venue is a 5-min. walk from JR Harajuku Station on the Yamanote Line. www.corteo.jp


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