Review by Heather Roberts
There is a playful aspect to disco. A childlike, puckish element that is innocent, despite the sexuality of the sound and lyrics. One of the most lyrical aspects of the Charlottetown Festival’s new production, Disco Cirque, is the embodiment of this quality in the appearance of a silent mime who leads us into this hypnotic world—in other words a pretty girl in a silver suit with a big smile and bendy back.
There are a great many attractive members of the Disc Cirque cast who can sing very well, and a good few who can also dance. Together they form a song-and-dance troupe of impressive versatility and good humour. The costumes are fun and bright—the whole shebang is a visual and auditory bag of cotton candy—sweet and fluffy and exactly what you want at the time.
While issues such as homosexuality and drug use are presented in the non-singing parts, they are not confronting. There is small mention of the Stonewall riots, some camp Village People numbers and a taste of Rocky Horror, but the images presented are as sanitized and mainstreamed as they can be. I can’t imagine anyone who owns a television being remotely offended by this margarine “decadence.”
The show is somewhat linear, demonstrating the history of the rise and fall again of disco in North America, with some mention of Euro disco. The songs are energetically backed up by performers on silks, hoops and trapeze—the stationary, not the flying kind. There are (thankfully) no clowns and (unfortunately) no juggling or magic tricks. The bendy people on the silks made up for that though.
While the whole ensemble was good, there were some standout performances that were truly excellent. The Bee Gees were fantastic, hilarious and, thanks mostly to John Edward’s mindblowing falsetto, sounded truly realistic. The four Divas, Tiffany Deriveau, Alana Hibbert, Charlotte Moore and Kristen Peace were sexy to look at and sounded unbelievable. “Donna Summer” never sounded so happy to be performing. Other standouts included the very strong and limber Derek Wiens, and the pocket rocket Zak Kearns, whose unbelievable dancing was an absolute joy to watch. Gerrad Everard stole the show for humour, providing a great many of the laughs.
If there is a disco song that you love and absolutely have to hear to feel that your disco quota is full, it will be sung in Disco Cirque. And if you are under 30 there will be a few new ones, but performed so well that they become instant old favourites. With more than 70 songs, the spectacle never gets old, and with the stage mostly full, there is always something to look at.
The lighting and sound effects are impressive—the Confederation Centre stage is always a great venue, as it is comfortable and roomy without allowing the viewer to feel isolated from the action of the stage. It is a show better seen from a little way back, however, as there is so much going on on the stage. Also, the cast likes to audience interact, so if you are at all shy or hesitant of your minute of fame, don’t sit in the front three rows! And don’t leave your sense of humour and fun at home for this one.
Disco Cirque runs until September 25 playing Thursdays and Fridays at 7.30 pm on the Confederation Centre Mainstage in Charlottetown.