‘Part of the story’: Skater’s thrilled with role in Cirque du Soleil ‘Crystal,’ set for PPL Center shows
The world-famous Cirque du Soleil brings a thrilling and “cool” new show, “Crystal,” to PPL Center, Allentown, June 26-30.
The production blends stunning acrobatics and figure skating. With aerial feats and impressive artistry on ice, “Crystal” is predicted to surpass expectations in a breakthrough show.
“Crystal” has an international cast of 43 performers, including figure, extreme and freestyle ice skaters, plus acrobats, musicians and comics.
The storyline for “Crystal,” directed by Shana Carroll and Sebastien Soldevila, and under the artistic direction of Fabrice Lemire, is about a misfit heroine named Crystal who takes the audience on an exhilarating tale of imaginative self-discovery.
Crystal soars through a surreal and colorful world, and transforms into what she was destined to be. “Crystal” stuns with astonishing visual effects and a soundtrack that blends popular music with the signature sounds of Cirque du Soleil. “Crystal” is suitable for all ages.
Mary Siegel, who plays the role of Reflection, has performed in “Crystal” since its inception in July 2017.
“The storyline is about a girl named Crystal and she doesn’t feel like she fits in with society,” says Siegel in a phone interview.
“She’s being told that she’s odd and peculiar. She’s had enough of it, so she decides to run away from home, and finds herself on an [icy] pond that eventually cracks. She falls through. That’s where I come into play.
“The first time you see me, I’m suspended 30 feet in the air and upside down, looking at Crystal. It’s an intense moment.
“Reflection is her guide through the ‘under the ice’ world. So, it’s kind of a warped sense of reality and I’m almost like the White Rabbit in ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ I take her through her journey of self-discovery.
“I think one of the really powerful messages in it is women supporting women. I play a [person with a disability], but I’m also there as her support. I’m the one that’s the biggest cheerleader behind her.”
Siegel is a double gold medalist and was a 2003 Eastern Great Lakes champion skater. She performed with England’s “Hot Ice Show,” in “Obsession,” Holiday on Ice’s “Believe” and “Platinum,” and performed on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas cruise ship.
She’s also an accomplished dancer and had a role in the Cincinnati Ballet’s “Nutcracker.” The 30-year-old hails from Cincinnati, Ohio.
Siegel, who has been skating since the age of seven, started in group lessons, then transitioned to private lessons, with a dedication to the rigorous physical aspect.
“Skating is a high-intensity sport mixed with the movement of dance,” says Siegel. “I pretty much skated every day, all day. I even started home-schooling so that I could train.
“I never thought I would be a performer. I grew up in competition. I still have that passion and that fire for skating, so I think it’s kept me going. Getting to perform and travel and do what I love and get paid to do it, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
As for challenges that performers face while executing daring feats on ice, Siegel says, “For the skaters, this is our setting. It’s more for the acrobats where the danger is involved. They’re doing what they know how to do, but on a surface they’re not used to. Cirque had to make special equipment for the acrobats.”
The acrobatics bring new and heightened thrills to the show.
“You can expect everything from a normal Cirque du Soleil show, just over ice,” says Siegel.
Siegel’s coach is Stephanie Miller, who trained Siegel for 12 years during her time in competitive skating. Miller acts as a second mother, providing moral support and frequent phone calls.
“She acts more as a therapist nowadays,” Siegel says.
“Crystal,” touring nationally and internationally, heads to Russia in fall 2019.
“The most impressive thing about our show is the projection effects. It gives [the audience] that full, immersive feeling. We can simulate what happens on the projector with our movements.
“You feel like you’re part of the story,” says Siegel.
“Crystal” is Cirque du Soleil’s 42nd original production since 1984. The company has performed for more than 180 million spectators in more than 450 cities on six continents.
Cirque du Soleil has more than 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from 50 countries.
Tickets: PPL Center box office; PPLCenter.com; 610-347-TIXX