Huzzah for Kooza!

Cirque du Soleil returns to its clowning roots with Kooza (Photo: OSA Images)

To Kooza or not to Kooza? That is the question.

In a Vancouver summer vibrant with family-friendly arts offerings–The Lion King, Theatre Under the Stars, Bard on the Beach, and The Improv Musical to name just a few–it’s tough to choose where to invest your entertainment dollars.

In a perfect world, theatre tickets would be cheap like borscht and we would merrily feast on everything that was served up. But reality is otherwise–it can cost several hundred dollars for a family-night-out these days–and we find ourselves wondering: but will it be worth it?

Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza is definitely worth it.

Cirque du Soleil has always been a get-what-you-pay-for proposition. Lay down the price of admission–$45 to $230 depending on your age and seating preferences–and prepare for a super-sized theatrical experience: bigger laughs, bigger thrills, bigger magic.

I took my 10-year-old niece to the Grand Chapiteau at Concord Place near Science World. This is kid who has never seen a vintage Ringling Brothers spectacle; she wasn’t even born when Cirque’s original stilt-walking clowns wowed crowds at the Canada Pavilion during Expo ’86. (A lot of people still don’t know that Montreal-based Cirque is a Canadian enterprise.)

This is a kid who is so used to cinematic green-screens and motion capture and special effects that I think it took at least the first 20 minutes before she really grasped the wonder of what she was seeing.

Those people goofing around in silly costumes, hurling themselves through space, folding themselves in half, riding bicycles on tightropes right in front of her eyes? Those were real people. Real, talented, fit, beautiful, crazy people.

By the time the second half rolled around–quite literally with a dare-devil aerial act called the Wheel of Death–she was flushed pink with excitement. A clown pick-pocketed an unsuspecting audience member. An acrobat upended himself on a two-storey-high stack of chairs.

And when the stilt-walkers started vaulting through the air, she climbed into my lap, exhausted by awe.

Myself, I never tire of Cirque productions: one-size-fits-all entertainment of the highest calibre.

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