A scene from Corteo
(Photo © Marie-Reine Mattera)
A scene from Corteo
(Photo © Marie-Reine Mattera)
All of Cirque du Soleil's shows tell some sort of a dreamlike story that is amplified by juggling, acrobatics, highwire acts, etc. Corteo begins with a clown asleep in bed, dreaming about his own funeral taking place on stage. Okay, fine. Now, bring on the jugglers!

It's best to forget the story and just enjoy the amazing acts. One of them is a troupe that uses trampolines built into beds to portray the joyfulness of youth. Dressed like kids in pajamas, their leaping, twisting, turning acrobatics are exuberant to the point of giddiness. At one point during the show, beautiful women dangle from three chandeliers, making The Phantom of the Opera's set design look pallid by comparison. And there's another aerial act in which a delicate young woman reverses positions with a muscular guy, holding him suspended at a great height.

Corteo does have a few slow spots, and there are times when you may feel that it has been put together by the numbers. Still, the costumes are breathtaking, and the lighting is almost insanely colorful. The sound is a bit muddy, but almost everyone in the company speaks and/or sings in a foreign language, so the show is more about haunting melodies than lyrics. None of this will surprise longtime fans of Cirque du Soleil; the company is an institution that doesn't vary its product very much. The often exciting acts are always different, but not very different.

We should note that attending the show can be an expensive proposition. If you're headed to Randall's Island from Manhattan and you choose to take the scenic route via ferry, it will cost you $22 round trip. (The MTA bus is only $5.) And if you get hungry or thirsty during the course of your visit, here's hoping you've got deep pockets, because a large soda is priced at $6.75 a hot dog at $5. The cost of these items is more in line with the concession stands at Yankee Stadium than those at the Biltmore. Our advice is to pack a sandwich and bring your own drinks!