Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Wintuk - Madison Square Gardens, New York

Writer & Director: Richard Blackburn
Choreographer: Catherine Archambault

Reviewer: Jeff Savio

As we enter the winter season, many children eagerly await the arrival of snow. Cirque du Soleil’s seasonal spectacular, Wintuk, follows Jaime, a young boy, on his quest to discover why winter has yet to bring much desired snow to his city. Along the way, he is joined by a playful young girl, a shy man, and a wise Shaman. Together they encounter a host of colorful characters as they make their way to the imaginary arctic world called Wintuk. The plot, while fairly loose and simple, presents a fun backdrop for the fascinating action that constantly fills the stage.

In typical Cirque du Soleil fashion, Wintuk’s story comes to life with jaw-dropping stunts and tricks that are beautifully choreographed, flawlessly executed, and seamlessly integrated. The result is nonstop action across the entire stage that provides an exciting and engaging family-friendly experience. Each act – whether juggling, balancing, bicycling, tumbling, or a variety of other acrobatic stunts – pushes the limit of what you thought was possible, leaving you all the more bewildered. In one scene, a construction worker balances high above the ground on a single board stacked atop teetering levels of pipes and cylinders. In another, acrobats perform a Russian bars act, flying into the air, tumbling, and then landing gracefully on the thin bar from which they were first launched. Each act is performed in character with immense energy and ease. If the laws of gravity do exist on the stage, they seem to not apply to the actors as they perform these seemingly impossible feats that leave you on the edge of your seat, grabbing the person next to you, and asking, simply, “How?”

Wintuk’s amazing stunts and tricks are further complemented by the show’s fun live music and dynamic stage. The whimsical set is vibrant and consists of skate and bike ramps, a long tumble track trampoline, and a variety of moving pieces that bring the stage to life and allow the actors to showcase their talents. Enormous puppets and extravagant costumes, including a quartet of “dogs” that comically jump and roll around the stage, add to the unique experience. The actors perform with energy and ease, leaving you laughing, gasping, and staring in wonder.

By the end of Wintuk, audience members of all ages are left smiling and wanting more. Throughout the 90-minute show, the audience is engulfed in a fantastic Wintuk wonderland where the seemingly impossible happens all the time. Seeing, or rather experiencing, Wintuk is a great way to jump excitedly into the winter season. The action-packed, beautifully produced Wintuk is an outstanding, fun show that will please all. Ultimately, as one of the show’s closing songs explains, in Wintuk, “nothing’s missing.”

Photos: Richard Termine
Wintuk runs through January 3, 2010.
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