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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
PARAMOUR
at Lyric Theatre

HIGH-FLYING ACROBATICS
By BILL STEVENSON

  Andrew and Kevin Atherton/ Ph: Richard Termine

Cirque du Soleil has spared no expense on its first Broadway show, Paramour. It’s a lavish production featuring several enormous sets, countless colorful costumes, and a sprawling cast of singers, dancers and acrobats. If only the story and songs were on par with the musical’s production values. The plot involves a clichéd love triangle, and the dialogue is flat. Despite the best efforts of the singers and dancers, the show takes off only when the acrobats and aerialists take flight.
 
The first set, which boasts hundreds of lights on the backdrop and stairs, is bright and snazzy. The opening number has rapid-fire tumbling along with peppy dancing, but the song is bland. Paramour takes place in “the golden age of Hollywood,” and its big production numbers reference different movie genres. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the story (tired and predictable) and the dialogue (lame) make us impatient for more tumbling and flying. Jeremy Kushnier plays the tyrannical, jealous director AJ. Ruby Lewis is Indigo, the fresh-faced ingénue AJ plans to turn into a star. And Ryan Vona plays Joey, a struggling musician who falls in love with Indigo while writing songs for AJ’s epic. (AJ insists that his pictures are called “films,” not “movies.” Ugh.)
 
The three leads have strong voices—and Lewis and Vona make an attractive couple—but the songs (credited to Bob & Bill, Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard) are uninspired. The catchiest tune comes during the big Cleopatra number. Lewis doesn’t get to sing it for long, though. She is soon upstaged (actually downstaged) by the skillful aerialists Andrew and Kevin Atherton, Australian twins who have appeared in other Cirque productions. They soar above the crowd and almost fly into the rafters. Finally, Paramour achieves liftoff. But it makes us want to see more flying, tumbling and juggling and much less of the dull love-triangle story.
 
Also in the first act is the inventive Filmstrip number, in which dancers repeat movements in what looks like frames in a giant filmstrip. The staging is clever, and the film projections make it even more visually striking. The first-act finale ("Calamity Jane") is also lively. It features acrobats sending one another soaring using a kind of seesaw. It’s a fun riff on the MGM classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
 
The second act features lots more love-triangle plot (snore), more references to old movies (meh) and more of what Cirque du Soleil does best: acrobatics and flying. None of the acts uses nets, which can make people like me nervous. Mats are used for some numbers, including the terrific Rooftops set piece near the end of the show. Another enormous set, this one with a film noir look, is perfect for the rooftop chase sequence in which acrobats jump from roof to roof using hidden trampolines. It’s a rousing number with great stunts.
 
Director Philippe Decouflé and set designer Jean Rabasse offer plenty of visual stimulation throughout the show. At times the staging is too busy, though, as dancers, singers and acrobats compete for our attention. Like Cirque’s traveling shows, Paramour offers stylish design and exciting acrobatics. It’s a shame the story sags and the songs are much less memorable than all the flying and tumbling.

 


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