Sunday, February 5, 2012

Where To Be Merry: OVO @ The Santa Monica Pier


The Merriment: A Cirque du Soleil production, right on the beach 

The Vibes: Lively, colorful, vibrant, delightful, energetic 

Good for: The kid in all of us 

When-to-Go: Now through Sunday, March 11th

With-Whom-to-Go: Families, dates, friends, little kids...pretty much anyone

The $ Factor: Pricey ($49-$158.50 per ticket); it all depends which of the four sections that you select. Discounts are available for children, students, seniors and military personnel. 

The 4-1-1: Parking on the Pier is $8, or if you don’t mind trekking down to the pier, other parking garages and metered street parking are near Ocean Drive. 

Perhaps you’ve driven down PCH right where it merges with the 10-Freeway, looked off towards the ocean, saw a massive blue and yellow tent chilling in the parking lot adjacent to the beach and wondered, "what in the world is that thing?"

Well, it’s a Grand Chapiteau (fancy French word for big top) and it’s where Cirque du Soleil’s traveling OVO show takes place for the next month and a half.

The tent helps to give OVO the feel of an old-school circus, along with the jugglers, trapeze artists, contortionists and the works; but fortunately, there are no animals involved. Audience seating starts almost immediately where the stage is and wraps around three of the stage's sides, giving great views of the action from almost anywhere in the tent.

Divided into two parts with an intermission in between, OVO is ten acts of energetic movement and swirling colors, interwoven together by a timeless story of love between the genial Lady Bug who’s the star of a close-knit insect community and a vagrant Fly with a giant egg – an OVO – strapped onto his back who unexpectedly wanders into her territory. Under the well-intended yet often misguided advice of the insect village chief Master Flipo, the Fly uses different techniques to woo Miss Lady Bug, while the other insects curiously muse and mull over OVO.

As would be expected with a Cirque du Soleil production, there are minutes stacked upon minutes of hair-raising stunts and daredevil tricks. About half of the acts are solos, such as the turquoise-colored Dragonfly who opens the show with a complex hand-balancing routine. The other half are group performances, like “The Ants” (pictured to the right) who not only throw “kiwis” and “corn” back and forth to one another with their feet, but who also throw one another back and forth with the strength of their feet and legs.

Now I have to say, I did notice a few blunders here and there that I haven't seen in other Cirque productions. For example, one of the Scarabs in the Flying Trapeze Act fell off the platform after he somersaulted in the air (thank goodness for those safety nets!). Granted, this act is the biggest and hardest act of its kind held in a Cirque du Soleil Grand Chapiteau, but in my humble opinion, the handful of minuscule slip-ups brought a sense of humanity and accessibility to the performers. I give mad props to anyone who can spiral several feet down during a live performance and then get back up and do a triple twist in the air like nothing happened a mere two seconds ago. Had it been me, I’d have a nervous breakdown and run backstage.

All in all, I thought OVO was well executed. It’s lighthearted, very vibrant, and in general, just a feel good kind of show. The main bossa nova and samba musical themes have subtle references to hip-hop, salsa and classical notes, and work to beautifully unify the entire show. And the fact that the insects hardly ever speak English and instead use an insect "dialect," exaggerated gestures, expressive motions and emphasized sounds to communicate, adds a delightful element of comedy. Also to my surprise and utter excitement, the performers actively engage with the audience members, walking up and down the aisles and picking out unaware guests from their seats to “help” Fly find love.

Definitely catch a performance of OVO in the next couple of weeks. Hey, perhaps I’ll see you there soon!

For more information: OVO, @cirque


Photo credits: 
2nd photo: OSA Images
3rd photo: Benoit Fontaine © 2009 Cirque du Soleil Inc.