On Wednesday evening, a local audience was on the edge of its seat as a young woman swung back and forth on a trapeze more than a dozen feet high in the air. She dropped and flipped, eliciting gasps, before landing lightly on her feet on the bar of the trapeze.
On ice skates.
The performer was one of the talented skating acrobats who make up the cast of the stunning Cirque du Soleil CRYSTAL.
CRYSTAL is the Montreal-based circus company’s first ice show, but the performers don’t shy away from the gravity-defying acrobatics, balancing acts, aerial stunts, dancing, juggling and clowning, all on the icy surface of the Stockton Arena and high above it.
As they waited for the show to begin, Wednesday’s audience was entertained by a snowball-flinging clown.
The audience interaction wasn’t limited to the pre-show. As the clown drifted in and out of certain acts, audience members were gifted flowers, encouraged to provide a clapping beat for the music, and encourage the clown as he faced a few mishaps.
But the bulk of the performance was focused on the titular Crystal, a girl who doesn’t seem to fit in.
It opens with her parents and teacher complaining that she doesn’t pay attention and lives inside her head, and her classmates bullying her for being strange. She spends her time daydreaming, but that only seems to make things worse.
So Crystal tries to skate away from her problems, only to end up on thin ice that shatters, sending her toppling into another world.
There, she meets an incredible cast of characters who take her on a journey through a world that’s influenced by her own imagination. While the storyline could be lost in the acrobatics at times, it’s a positive and satisfying take on self-acceptance.
But the real strengths of CRYSTAL are the skating and acrobatics.
Despite the wintery setting, the performers flip through the air, spin and swing on trapezes and aerial straps — often without a harness — balance on towering, wobbling structures and more.
And they never missed a beat. It’s a mix of stunts that had Wednesday’s audience on the edge of their seats.
The soundtrack is a mix of tunes with Celtic, French and Eastern European influences, along with pop songs by Sia and Beyonce arranged to show off the show’s talented musicians.
The moveable set pieces both provided a backdrop to the action and became a part of it, as ramps, chairs and walls became props for more and more intricate tricks. The incredible lighting work turns the ice into a variety of different places.
The incredible athletic wizardry, enchanting music and all of the other moving parts come together to create a stunner of a production — one that is absolutely worth the ticket.