Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The magic of Zarkana begins as soon as you enter the gorgeous lobby at Radio City Music Hall. It may take a moment to notice amid the hubbub of the crowd, but there's a white-faced muscular man almost floating above you, singing a mysteriously alluring song. And then there's the Rag Doll woman with her liquid black eyes and impressively creepy rag doll. And . . . well, I don't want to say too much.
Once you're inside and the show begins, your eyes and mind are fed almost to bursting with staggering acrobatic acts, stunning 3D projections (designed by Raymond St-Jean) that seem like full-bodied holograms, and other-worldly costumes (designed by Alan Hranitelj). The stark, dramatic lighting (by Alain Lortie) throws huge shadows on the walls, so that watching the acrobats' shadows is almost as compelling as watching the acrobats.
And, oh, the performers! Carole Demers' jumps and flips on the Russian Bar make Olympic gymnasts seem like wimps. Maria Choodu's juggling is impressive and also beautiful. The trapeze artists utilize four platforms instead of two to allow frighteningly intricate flips and catches. Erika Chen's sand painting is an elegant and welcome respite from the intensity of the acrobatics. Ray Navas Velez and Rudy Navas Velez make you believe that the Wheel of Death is well-named--especially when one of them jumps rope in midair for 10 seconds or so. And Anatoly Zalevskiy uses every one of his perfect muscles in his hand-balancing act, which combines the athleticism of a sport with the beauty of a ballet.
One complaint: there is too much music and it is too loud. Much of it is beautiful, and the singers are excellent, but I would have preferred it to fade into the background during the acts, particularly during the subtlety of the sand painting and hand balancing. There are times the music almost feels assaultive.
Overall, however, Zarkana is glorious.
(press ticket, 31st row, center)