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Cirque du Soleil's new show at Radio City Music Hall is full of high-flying thrills and gorgeous stage pictures. logo
A scene from Zarkana
(© Alan Hranitelj/Cirque du Soleil)
Audiences seeking high-flying thrills might want to forgo a trip to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and head over to Radio City Music Hall, where Cirque du Soleil is presenting its specially-created show Zarkana, full of daredevil acrobats, trapeze artists, and even a flying clown to delight those down below.

True, this newest offering from the Canadian-based entertainment conglomerate, written and directed by Francois Girard, isn't Cirque's finest show -- either in execution or conception. (I still have no idea about most of what the magician Zark, played by the soulfully-voiced Paul Bisson, or sultry female vocalist Meetu Chilana were singing about.) But the two hours fly swiftly by.

Indeed, one of the show's greatest strengths is that no act lasts very long, so if one doesn't appeal, it's only minutes until another takes center stage. And, in typical Cirque fashion, keep your eyes peeled at all times, since you never know what might happen next.

Girard and his Cirque team have taken great advantage of Radio City's width, height, and breadth -- along with its LED screens -- to create some extraordinary stage pictures, such as an enormous spider's web. And through amazing projection design, they flood the stage with images both gorgeous and creepy. If you're afraid of snakes, there's one segment during which you may want to close your eyes.

I might never tire of watching the amazing trapeze artists, who manage to catch each other in mid-air, and I constantly marvel of the seemingly dangerous moves on the "Wheel of Death" undertaken by Ray Navas Velez and Rudy Navas Velez. Carole Demers is truly impressive on the Russian Bar; so are utlraflexible rope swingers Di Wu and Jun Guo, diminutive ladder climber Victoria Dvoretskaya, and sand painter Erika Chen, who takes artistry to another level.

Other performers, including a group of attractive male flag wavers and female juggler Maria Choodu, were less memorable. (On Sunday night, the most oddly notable act was hand balancer Anatoly Zalevskiy, who appeared for a mere instant before walking off the stage and not returning.)

Fans of the show's signature clowns may be disappointed by their relative lack of stage time, but all will admit their presence adds some nice moments of comic relief (including a cute late second-act bit with a "volunteer" from the audience) that lightens the sometimes dark mood of Zarkana.

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