As Cirque du Soleil’s 50-strong acrobatic insect showstopper Ovo – an extravaganza about a day in the life of a curious community of insects – leaves thousands buzzing each night at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Cirque du Soleil at Sea is thrilling audiences in a surreal, slightly more intimate show on board MSC Meraviglia.
Twice a night, for six days of the week, 15 of its artists perform Sonor, an auditory adventure including masterful human beatboxing (vocal imitation of percussion sounds) and Viaggio, a dreamlike journey into the vivid imagination of a painter. These are Cirque du Soleil’s first shows at sea, and ensuring they reach its world-class standard has been possible, in part, because of the carousel-like stage designed specially by architect Marco de Jorio.
“There’s nothing that has gone down a level,” says Susan Gaudreau, show director of Cirque du Soleil at Sea. “In fact I would say there’s an enhancement because the stage is so close to the audience.”
Without the usual theatre exits and entrances, Gaudreau explains that artists often have to reach the stage via “what we call Pandora’s box” (an elevator on the stage) or by passing through the audience. As a pair of juggling airmen cycle haphazardly on airborne wires towards the moving carousel, guests can feel the breeze on their faces.
During land-based shows, the Cirque du Soleil team is used to having up to 50ft of air space for aerial wizardry. At sea there is just 16ft and the stage has a diameter of 26ft. By comparison, the Royal Albert Hall’s stage is 45ft wide.