I’ve got to go on record as saying I’m not a raving fan of Cirque du Soleil. I don’t dislike it, I just don’t really “get” it. (I also think there are a few too many Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas. When your show choice becomes Cirque, Cirque, Cirque, or Cirque, it’s a little too much.) Several years ago, I went to see Mystere at Treasure Island. It was visually spectacular, and the acrobatic feats were impressive, but the repeated intrusions of the giant “baby” into the show really turned me off–not to mention the fact that it seemed that every acrobatic feat was repeated over and over ad nauseum, just in case we’d slept through it the first five times. About 2/3 of the way through the show, I had to use the bathroom, so I got up and left. On my way out, the usher told me she’d find a good time to get me back to my seat upon my return. Only I didn’t return. I had seen enough.
Somehow, though, Cirque du Soleil’s KA, at the MGM Grand, always appealed to me. I think it’s the whole “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” mystique it carries, with Asian costuming and martial arts choreographed into the show, plus the fact that it reportedly had a plot, unlike Mystere. Unfortunately, I seemed to always travel to Las Vegas during the one week the show was dark.
I was very excited to finally see this show in December. My seat was in section 201, row BB, seat 1 (on the end–just in case this was “Mystere, Redux”). This section is one of the mid-priced sections. I learned last year at Phantom of the Opera that my distance vision is just too poor now to go with the nosebleed seats any more. I need to be a little bit closer to the action in order to really see what’s going on. Where I was sitting, my line of sight was slightly impaired by a handrail, but not to the point where it spoiled the show or anything. (And, as a bonus, I was one of the first people out of the theater after the show.)
I was relieved to find that it’s true, KA does have a plot. In abbreviated summary, it is: A royal family is attacked by its enemies. The parents are killed, and the rest of the court, including the imperial twins (one boy, one girl, presumably teenagers), flees for their lives. In the melee, the twins are separated. The boy is shot by an arrow, and the girl’s ship sinks. The two undergo various adventures with their respective companions–and meet love interests along the way–before reuniting for a final battle with the evil forces of the show. It’s very much an epic heroic journey for both of them.
I really enjoyed the show. The music was (mostly) great and performed its part by setting the tone of each scene. The action sequences and acrobatics were exciting to watch. The fight scenes were breathtakingly well-choreographed. I was less enchanted with the “magical flights of fancy” interludes (for lack of a better term), but even those were visually spectacular.
One of the biggest stars of this show is the theater itself. The set for the show extends out into the theater, so that performers climb all around the audience on platforms at various levels (see photo above), from which they catapult themselves and swing above our heads. The seats all have surround sound, which really makes you feel like you’re part of the show. The stage is a hydraulics masterpiece, with platforms that rise and fall and tilt. I found myself holding my breath watching the performers scrambling around on the tilting platforms, wondering how they managed it.
The show wasn’t perfect. Parts of the storyline were hard to follow (of course, I didn’t have a program; that might have made a difference). The nonsensical vocal utterances that the characters used as “language” to communicate really annoyed me. And while I loved the fireworks at the end, the schmaltzy music reminded me a little too much of that final, “lovefest with the Ewoks” scene of Return of the Jedi, which I have always despised.
But other than those minor quibbles, I was blown away by this show. It was, in my opinion, much, much better than my previous experience with Cirque du Soleil. Obviously, taste is a personal thing. I’ve heard people rave about the other Cirque shows and say KA didn’t do anything for them. But if you, like me, have seen a different Cirque show and also didn’t “get” the appeal, consider giving this one a try. It’s just different enough to stand out from the Cirque pack.