While we were in Las Vegas last weekend to see Lady Gaga’s Jazz & Piano show (which I wrote about here), we went to New York New York to take in the newest Cirque du Soleil show, Mad Apple.
As usual, it was full of acrobats and aerialists with — this is a rough estimate — 100% less body fat than I have. None of them did anything I haven’t seen before, but it’s still a bit thrilling to see in person, especially the wheel of death finale.
One big difference from the other Cirque shows is that the featured act in Mad Apple was Harrison Greenbaum, a comedian/magician I saw years ago at Monday Night Magic in New York. As he pointed out, a lot of people in the audience were surprised to hear someone on a Cirque stage just talking. But Greenbaum’s good at it, and I was impressed with his crowd work, ad libbing his way through banter with one attendee after another. Even when he realized a couple of them didn’t speak English, he was still able to finesse the situation for laughs. On top of that, he had some prepared material and tricks that went over well. A very solid performer.
However, there were a few things I didn’t like. Mad Apple has a corps of dancers and singers who not only do their own routines, but also perform while the aerialists did their acts on ropes and poles suspended from the ceiling. Our attention should have been solely focused in the air as they twisted and twirled their bodies, often with their legs spread more than 180° apart. There was no reason to supplement the scene with someone singing “Summertime.”
I always detest when emcees try to pump up the crowd and insist we make more noise and sing along with some of the songs. These attempts at energizing onlookers are a clear sign of insecurity. After all, if your act thrills me in some way, I’ll applaud and maybe even stand up. Remember, the bargain we made was that I paid a hundred bucks to watch and hear you, not the other way around.
Mad Apple is promoted as being for an 18+ audience, but none of the acts would be inappropriate for kids — except for Greenbaum and a couple of others who sprinkle too many fucks and shits into their monologues. Nor are there any topless women in the show, though at least one of the men did strip off his shirt. That made the woman in front of me involuntarily utter “ooohhh,” the same guttural sound Brad Pitt engendered when he removed his shirt in “Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood.” In both instances, I was unaffected, because I see the same thing every time I look in the mirror. The one in the funhouse at the carnival, I mean.
In all, Mad Apple seemed designed as an entry-level Cirque du Soleil show and never rose higher — certainly not to the heights of O, the company’s outstanding water show at Bellagio. After thirty years in business, Cirque doesn’t seem to have anything new to offer.
Or maybe the world has run out of the kind of people who populate its shows.