Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Tech-Filled ‘Cirque du Soleil: Crystal’ Dazzles in Ashwaubenon

Resch Center Cirque Crystal_1539344948687.jpg.jpg

“Cirque du Soleil: Crystal – A Breakthrough Ice Experience” is like “Alice in Wonderland” updated – way, way updated.

It is the story of a restless, misunderstood girl who falls into a fantasy world filled with colorful adventures.

The story plays out in an ice show that embraces elements of gymnastics, dance, music, comedy and dramatics – all presented with huge splashes of technology.

A dazzling touring production is running for five more performances to Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Resch Center.

The basics: Remaining performances: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12; 4 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13; and 1:30 and 5 p.m. Oct. 14. Info: reschcenter.com.

This and that:

+ The running time for the story part of the show is two hours and five minutes. A 20-minute intermission is part of that time. But there is more beforehand, 15 minutes before the start. First, musicians on clarinet, fiddle and accordion play on the lip of the ice rink/performance area. Soon, a clown-like character arrives to play snowballs with audience members.

+ For this, there’s the feel of a Parisian street scene – wintry as ice skaters leisurely drift about the ice. On the ice are impressionistic, silver trees and other geometric, crystal-like forms. In the background is a massive structure that looks like large ice cubes clumped together.

+ In time, we learn the musicians add live color to scenes as they play passages synchronized to action. We learn the clown-like character is an important part of the show and is amazing for his multiple skills in juggling, tumbling and wordless, body-language humor. We also learn the ice-cube structure has movable entrances and serves as a projection-type screen.

+ The Crystal performer and the clown-like fellow are a major factors in the show. Each performs multiple “tricks” with seamless skills. They are nameless. Everyone in the show is nameless – not introduced as part of the production. The audience does not receive a printed program; you can buy one. That’s showbiz.

+ “Cirque du Soleil: Crystal” fits right in with today’s technology-driven world in how visual elements are infused into the ice-cube structure and the ice rink. Motion action is projected in the backdrop – note: in not on. The rink has a surface of real ice, while beneath is a large-scale “screen” by which images change and flow. At its trickiest level, this “screen” traces skaters’ skate-blade action, adding color. At the end, the skater who is Crystal’s reflection in the story “writes” on the ice these words in script: “The End.” The tech stuff creates a sense of wonder – a major draw.

+ Music is part of the fabric of the production. It feels “now” with its blend of styles as it creates large soundscapes with alluring voices.

+ Juggling, gymnastics, acrobatics, balancing and other circus-skill acts are woven into Crystal’s adventures. Muscle power abounds. Pole acts, trapeze acts, multi-level acrobatic balancing/strength acts keep you on the edge of your seat and saying, “Wow.”

+ A big scene takes place in an imaginary pinball machine – the entire rink. Skaters zip around the rink and zoom up ramps. It’s like a skateboard routine, with the skaters on ice skates instead of rolling boards. It’s extremely flashy.

+ Traditional ice-skating duo scenes are part of the show. Three couples perform competition-like, high-skill maneuvers of combined daring and grace.

+ The main Crystal performer adds emotional elements in creating the character. It’s as if she wants Crystal’s soul to connect with the audience.

+ The Resch Center is quite the multi-purpose place. Basketball, football, hockey, volleyball, concerts and “Cirque du Soleil: Crystal” – that’s a high-wire act in itself.

VENUE: The 120,000-square foot (or so) Resch Center opened in September 2002. The facility is owned by Brown County and operated by PMI Entertainment Group. The architect was Odell Associates Inc./Betsch Associates, with Miron Construction as general contractor. The seating capacities are 10,200, concerts; 9,877, basketball; 8,709, ice hockey; 8,600 (arena football); 4,300-5,300 (Resch Center Theatre). The public sees an extensive use of glass on south side of building; large lobby with terrazzo floor and some geometric patterning; epoxy finish in concourse areas; glass-enclosed stairwell in tower structure; extensive use of off-white, with vibrant red used for impact, especially in the area seats; colored split-face block and smooth pre-cast concrete panel carried through from exterior. Since the opening, additions include a club area on the lobby level and, on the suite level, an outdoor patio that overlooks a practice area of the Green Bay Packers.

PERSON: Richard (Dick) Resch is former CEO of the furniture manufacturing company, KI. The Resch name is on other public-use projects in the Green Bay area.

Contact me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air Critic at Large editions on WFRV-TV at 6:20 a.m. Sundays. My latest book, “I Fell Out of a Tree in Fresno (and other writing adventures),” is available in Green Bay at Neville Public Museum and Bosse’s.

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