Every time Cirque du Soleil’s Grand Chapiteau rises from the asphalt in the Santa Monica Pier’s parking lot, I get goosebumps — indelible sense memories born of watching superhumans perform mind-blowing, out-of-the-box artistry so terrifying and exhilarating that you cannot clap until you are sure the performers are okay.
The last time the Cirque transformed the parking lot into a blue and yellow striped festival of enchantment and daring acrobatics, my friend’s daughter proclaimed she was thrilled to be heading to “Circus L.A.” Attending on Opening Night was the typical Circus L.A. — red carpet entrance, shouting photographers, VVIP pre-show.
It’s got to be weird for these actors who were once mere mortals, being fetishized because their work puts them on movies and tv screens. But I do give credit to these professional performers for being an audience that offered genuine and unabashed appreciation for what was happening before their eyes.
I haven’t loved every Cirque du Soleil show I’ve seen. (Ovo comes to mind.) But for sheer chutzpah and scare-you-out-of-your-pants acrobatics, not to mention inspiring lighting and sets, Totem is among their best. But since the excitement of the performance is in not knowing what to expect, my job is to preserve the pure experience for you, not to ruin it with the blow-by-blow. If you can, Go.