Cirque du Soleil's Kooza

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

And we're back from opening night of Kooza, the latest Cirque du Soleil production to visit Columbus and the first in two years to pitch its distinctive blue and yellow tents and stay awhile. The show will be in residence on the grounds of the old Cooper Stadium at 1155 W. Mound St. in Franklinton through July 5. The location is very easily accessible from the Mound Street exit on I-70.

Each time we get the media preview passes to a Cirque show, we try to provide parents with enough information about the show's content so they can make up their own minds about what is appropriate for their families. That said, I saw plenty of children of all ages in the audience last night and I didn't see anyone hauling a crying kid out of there, even when some of the acts got a bit scary.

Loosely constructed around the theme of a sweetly bumbling character known as The Innocent who goes on a journey of self-discovery, Kooza is a much simpler, more straightforward circus show than some recent productions that have visited the area. And I think that helped make it accessible and enjoyable for the children in the audience. My 16-year-old son said the narrative arc reminded him of The Nutcracker and I can totally see that.

As always, there is a ringmaster character who orchestrates the action and a posse of clowns who provide comic relief. Their humor is definitely of a PG-13 variety: There is plenty of bathroom humor (literally) and some sexual innuendo that is likely to go right over the heads of little ones. This show, however, leaves out the "faux romantic" elements that are often injected into many Cirque shows. The act that kicks off the second half has everyone dancing in skeleton costumes and masks in the Dia de Muertos/Day of the Dead style, but it doesn't seem at all scary because the lights are kept bright.

The circus acts range from "cool but totally safe" (hula-hoop juggling, a unicycle "dance" and contortionists) to "cool and dangerous-seeming" (a high-wire act and a spinning "wheel of death," which proves that centripetal force is a very good thing). What I do appreciate about the crazier acts is Cirque's creators have a well honed sense of how long is too long and these acts do not drag on too long.

The show is definitely not suitable for anyone with sensory issues. The music (fabulous and very well played) is loud - and this show also features a crashingly loud drum solo. There are also strobe lights and many other bright lighting effects.

Ticket prices range from $31 to $235 (the higher-priced tickets include perks like backstage tours), but there really aren't any bad seats in the "Big Top." Parking costs $10 (cash only from the looks of it) and the snacks and drinks can be pricey (for example, $5.50 for a large bag of Twizzlers). The show last night ran two hours and 20 minutes, which included a 30-minute intermission. All told, I thought it was an excellent show and something that I think many parents would consider suitable for their children - even when factoring in the "naughty" bits.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/kooza/default.aspx. And stay tuned to our Contests page (www.columbusparent.com/contests) because we are going to have some tickets to give away soon!

-Jane Hawes, Columbus Parent editor