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Theater review: 'Zarkana' -- 1.5 stars

Zarkana

Zarkana

Zarkana
1.5 stars

Radio City Music Hall kicked out the Tony Awards in order to stage this?

"Zarkana," a new $50 million Cirque du Soleil spectacle, manages to make "Spider-Man" - which also has a pop-rock score, a female spider character and an actor catapulted over the audience - look somewhat good by comparison.

The touring show will play Radio City through November and then travel to Madrid and Moscow.

In case you were wondering, the title is a combination of "bizarre" and "arcana." The show has a circus theme, established before the curtain even rises, when an army of clowns in white attire fills the lobby and the auditorium. Once the show begins, they look lost. Perhaps they were held over from a different Cirque du Soleil show?

At the opening, Zark, a magician played by the Canadian singer Garou, starts out in an abandoned theater and enters a strange fantasy world in order to find his lost love. Singing pop opera selections and awkwardly holding out his arms, he looks and sounds as if he came out of a bad "Jesus Christ Superstar" revival.

It is difficult to do a circus show on a massive proscenium stage instead of a circular arena. Anyone who is not sitting in the first few rows is bound to feel far away. In a poor attempt to compensate for this, video graphics are projected onto tall LED screens.

Of course, the 71-member cast still pulls off traditional stunts involving juggling; balancing on ladders, trapezes and aerial ropes; flag throwing; the Russian bar; sand painting; and a massive "Wheel of Death."


If you go: "Zarkana" plays at Radio City Music Hall through Nov. 22. 1260 Avenue of the Americas, 866-858-0008, cirquedusoleil.com

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