Review: Cirque du Soleil ‘Crystal’ breathtaking at PPL Center
Cirque du Soleil “Crystal” is one-part ice show, one-part circus and all-parts Cirque du Soleil.
“Crystal,” through June 30, PPL Center, Allentown, takes ice-skating and contemporary circus performance arts to a whole new level.
And, while the temperture sign on a bank building across the street at Seventh and Hamilton stated 91 degrees fahrenheit at 7:10 p.m. June 26, on opening night when the show was seen for this review, it was a world of cool creativity inside PPL Center.
On multiple levels, “Crystal” is breathtaking and thrilling.
Lighting, video projections, sound and performance create a theatrical world unlike any other. Seven silhouettes of trees and a bench create a park. Flats with sofas, TV and family create a suburbanite scene. Men in suits and women in white carry briefcases, as they skate. Talk about an open-concept office.
The arena ice is bathed in images, as is a huge backdrop “quartz” wall, lit in many hues and on which images are projected.
The music, performed by a violinist, clarinetist, accordion player, guitarist and other instrumentalists (including a triangle player), is a pastiche of gypsy, Celtic, klezmer and rock with influences of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Vangelis and Enya.
The two-act, approximately two-hour show, including a 15-min. intermission, is divided into themed segents.
The narration by Crystal, the title character, reveals the innermost thoughts of a young woman.
As the show’s protagonist, she’s pulled in every direction. With the stroke of a pen, Crystal’s imagination creates a fantasy world. The theme is vaguely anti-establishment. Still, Crystal dons a No. 19 Lehigh Valley Phanoms hockey team jersey.
The storyline is secondary to what appears before your eyes.
Cirque du Soleil is The Olympics of the circus arts. The athleticism of the performers is amazing.
Helmeted skaters take to the ramps, performing leaps, somersaults, flips and leg twists similar to that of a skateboarder or snowboarder.
Figure, extreme, freestyle and synchronized ice skaters perform side by side with acrobats on a swinging trapeze, aerial straps, and hand-to-hand lifts.
Ice dancing, including tap dancing on skates and breakdancing, further astounds.
There are jugglers, who have lots of balls in the air.
There’s a chair-balancing act whereby a man climbs on the top chair that’s scary to behold.
A swinging poles act combines synchro pole work, pole-to-pole jumps, and dismounts.
There’s an aerial pas de deux on straps and skates.
“Crystal” builds as each of the show’s segments leads to a spectacular finale.
With “Crystal,” Cirque du Soleil has done it again, crystalizing a new type of multi-disciplinary performance art.
Tickets: PPL Center box office; PPLCenter.com; 610-347-TIXX. Informaton: cirquedusoleil.com/