Dinner at the Oceana ended after a two hours period where we feasted on everything that fish could be turned into. Before we left for the show, we were offered video of Zarkana, including B-Roll footage, and production photos to use in our articles. Zarkana essentially was two shows in one. First you get a gothic rock opera feeling whenever the magician, Zark, performs with a mysterious woman who appears as different creatures throughout the show.
Then you have the acrobatical acts, featuring Cyr Wheels, Cerceaux, swings, clowns, Russian bar performers, trapeze and much more. They use traditional 'Cirque' instrumental music. Even the costumes seemed double sided as Zark sports a blood red and black cape and top hat all embroidered with certain gothic elements. The rest of the cast wore very vibrant colors that reminded me of nature. There was a lot of green and white used in those costumes.
The stage’s set design was absolutely amazing! It reminded me of how detailed the stage design is for 'KA' and 'O' in Vegas. The stage setup was what helped blend the differences in the character’s together into a show. The stage had one main curtain and several smaller curtains that were used as props for the show. The curtains were located on the sides and top of the stage, overlapping each other while different 3D hologram images were projected onto each curtain.
My favorite part was when the stage was made up to look like a jungle and all sides of the stage (from bottom to top) had giant animated 20 foot long crawling up and around the sides of the stage. I couldn’t tell at first if they were very well designed mechanical puppets or 3D holograms. Turns out it was a 3D hologram displayed on special material used on each curtain. The images displayed throughout the night on the curtains were very well crafted and they ranged from snakes to some pretty surreal stuff. Things began to get a little weird around halfway through the show when a character shoots himself into space from a cannon and then a very strange looking baby aliens comes out.
Then there was a female performer named The Oracle who does what’s called ‘sand painting’. Her talent is exactly as it sounds. The oracle comes out w/ a giant screen behind her to show the audience what she’s doing. She literally threw some blue sand onto a round, flat surface, and using only her fingers, she created extremely detailed sand drawings of the entire show up to that point and slightly beyond. Each sand painting took her literally ten seconds to create, and they were absolutely spectacular!
Then there was this man dressed in a white costume who displayed a technique called Hand balancing. For his routine, he bended his entire body into thee craziest positions you can think of. Then he does these maneuvers that show off how flexible, durable and strong his body is. The movement and poses his did were unbelievable and also not to be missed.
All in all I did like this production a lot. The clashing of the music styles was a little confusing to my ears at first but it still worked well with the story and it helped personify who the characters were and what their message was to the audience. What I didn’t like was the weird alien part with the six legged baby alien, I felt it didn’t mix well with the rest of the show. I also was slightly disappointed Zarkana was housed at Radio City Music Hall instead of doing it at the usual spot on Randall’s Island. The shows at Randall’s Island were usually cheap, used a smaller space and are far more intimate. All Cirque Du Soleil productions are celebrated for their audience interaction. About 20 minutes before every show starts, you can mingle with the cast, as they, fully in character, do some pre-show entertainment in order to warm up the crowd.
This was true at Radio City as well but then once the characters went on stage, you lose that closeness you felt from before. Radio city is so big, that I feel a lot of people didn’t get to fully appreciate the show as maybe they were at a bad angle, had seats very far away or their view was obscured somehow. Also, as this was such a large stage, sometimes you had so many acts doing different things at different parts of the stage, you often might miss something.
At Randall’s Island, there are no bad seats, everyone felt what their neighbors were feeling as the experience was the same. And being in such a small venue, you maintain that connection to your audience, that mystical energy that comes from being able to feel more apart of the show and appreciated it more. Zarkana was a different experience for me but it was still an amazing show not to be missed. You all have until October 8th 2011 to see it for yourselves before it vanishes like magic.