July 11 to July 15 – Meridian Centre – Downtown St. Catharines

Get carried away with the extraordinary life of a single clown.

Following over 10 years of thrilling audiences worldwide with extreme athletics and other worldly storytelling, Cirque du Soleil’s famous circus show Corteo is embarking on a North America arena tour – sharing the one-of-a-kind performance with smaller towns the company previously could not reach with their Big Top circus.

Corteo will visit Niagara for a seven-performance run at the Meridian Centre in downtown St. Catharines. The shows will run over five days from July 11 through to July 15 and predominantly be held in the evening — with matinees offered on Saturday and Sunday.

This classic Cirque show focuses on the life of the clown Mauro, who has passed on, but his spirit lingers amongst the performances. Many of Mauro’s friends join the stage to celebrate his life with not a funeral, but an emotionally charged montage celebrating the here and hereafter of life.

“All cirque shows invite you to go on a journey in a fantastic world full of creatures and different characters, but Corteo — it is totally different from that,” says Maxwell Batista, publicist for Corteo. “What makes this show unique is that by using a human being and using his friends in the show, it honours the traditional circus.”

“This clown invites us and brings us into all of those flashbacks and the greatest moments of his life,” said Batista. “You will see from the moments when he was a child and he was playing on bags pretending they were trampolines to moments when you get to see the loves of his life -— in this case, you will see them flying over the stage on big chandeliers.”

These lively recollections of a life gloriously lived and mystical portrayal of life after death blends with Mauro’s own memories of his life, friends and loved ones — along with his regrets and melancholy. All combine to build a festive parade that is guaranteed to entertain and delight all ages.

Acrobats and performers swing from chandeliers, fly from suspended bars and crawl to the very tops of poles in order to jump to the beds below, to name a few of the ways the performers fight gravity each night of the production.

“You see human beings — real people — doing things on stage … extraordinary, amazing things,” said Batista. “This helps you form a connection with this cirque show more than any other Cirque show.”

The show first began in 2005 to rave reviews, travelling all over the globe and sharing its story with more than 19 countries and 60 different cities. When the renowned show concluded in 2015, Batista said they simply could not put the show away for good. Cirque du Soleil’s directors and engineers began working on converting the large-scale circus into an arena suitable performance which could travel to smaller cities and towns that could not accommodate the large scale circus prior.

“At first we were like ‘Wow, this show is not suited for an arena,’” said Batista. “There is no way — it is just so big. And it is so hard to move a large show from a big top to an arena and we thought it would be impossible. And then for two years, we are thinking and we are thinking and we are thinking; it is a classic show, it was not time to close.”

Following these two years of trial and error, Batista said the Cirque team was able to build the show into an arena format. Corteo has since returned to its travelling roots with over 51 performers from 17 different nationalities, 23 technicians and over 100 people total in tow.

Cirque De Soleil: Corteo

“When you watch Corteo and sit in the arena, you will feel like you are in a small theatre,” said Batista. “Because of the environment, you won’t even recognize the large arena, because it will feel so small. The magnitude of the stage is so big and the lights rest right in the middle of the arena so when you arrive, you will see the theatre environment but it will appear kind of foggy — it will look like it is in a dream.”

“We believe it is the best arena show we have to date,” said Batista.

The stage setup for Corteo has been adapted to fit the arena format and is now vastly different from your traditional Cirque du Soleil production; as opposed to the traditional circus ring-like stage, Corteo’s stage cuts the arena down the middle, placing half the crowd on one side of the stage and half on the other. Batista said this unique design was a tactful move as it allows members of the audience the opportunity to watch the performance in the traditional sense, but as well, gives them a behind the scenes look at the Corteo world.

“The creator of the show Daniele [Finzi Pasca] wanted to make sure that the audience would have a feeling as to what it is like to be on stage and to see what the performers see and feel when they are on stage,” said Batista. “He wants them to experience the point of view of the artist. This is why he has the audience split in half in such a way.”

Along with the stage advancements made in order to transition Corteo from Big Top extravaganza to an intimate arena shows, many adjustments had to be made to help the performance adapt to the smaller space.

Without access to bleachers and extra space surrounding the performance area, the performers required a new and efficient method for traveling from one side of the stage to the other, without interrupting the flow of the performance. As an answer, Cirque’s Montreal engineers created a machine specifically for this show to allow for a seamless transition -— a machine similar to zip line according to Batista -— which pulls performers from one side of the stage to the other from underneath the platform.

“The audience does not see it, so it just appears that the same performer is magically arriving again and again to cross the stage from the same point A to point B.

“It is a very emotional show; it is very theatrical and poetic and makes people feel a mix of feelings and emotions while they watch the show,” said Batista. “During the show, it is very easy to understand the story of the show you are seeing. By the end of the show, everyone is always moved and touched by the story — and not only about the story itself, but by the performances which tell the story.

“I think it will be a perfect match as the first show to be held [in St. Catharines],” said Batista.

Tickets are currently on sale through cirquedusoleil.com/corteo. Regular tickets start at $39 dollars and child tickets at $25 dollars.