Arts / Performing Arts

Cirque du Soleil’s Revamped Alegría Brings New Thrills to Houston — Magic Under the Truly Big Top

Aerialists, a Human Gyroscope and All That "Snow" Transform Sam Houston Race Park

BY // 03.05.20

My first introduction to Cirque du Soleil was Nouvelle Experiènce, staged under the biggest tent I’d ever seen, pitched just outside the Mirage in Las Vegas. (Siegfried & Roy’s white tigers were in the indoor theater back then.)

It’s hard to believe today, but I’d never heard of the company before. How times have changed…

But whenever I reflect on Cirque du Soleil, what comes to mind first is Alegría, a show that captivated me years later in Houston during its original tour. Now the production is back, retooled for a new generation and playing under its signature big top at the Sam Houston Race Park through Sunday, April 12.

Alegría — as the haunting, Grammy-nominated theme song by composer René Dupéré expresses so well — is a magical celebration of life, explored through death-defying acts and demonstrations of surreal talent. But it’s also a story of change — of the new regime replacing the old — and the same can be said for this incarnation of the beloved show itself. Everything has been tweaked and updated to draw in new fans while not alienating the old.

Never fear: All your original favorites are still here, but the costuming is updated and the music, re-orchestrated with new numbers that meld perfectly with the score. The Singers in White and Black remain, as does the not-quite-a-ringmaster Mr. Fleur, whose jester-like presence guides us through the acts.

Standout performances on Monday night included the human-gyroscope-like Double Crossed Wheel, the charismatic lead of the Fire Knife Dance, the Hula Hoops that only a contortionist can wield, and the ever-popular Powertrack trampoline group number. Aerialists who swoop over the first rows of the audience and aristocratic clowns — who can forget all that “snow”? — are among the other acts rounding out an incredible evening.

But Alegría is more than an exhibition of otherworldly talent. It’s a universe unto itself, bound together by world-class visuals and lighting, intense characterizations, and live music, all contained within that soaring tent. You’ll forget that the bustle of the Sam Houston Tollway is just outside.

Alegría is one of 24 Cirque du Soleil productions being performed around the world right now. To experience the magic for yourself, click here for tickets to performances through Sunday, April 12. Want to get more involved? Consider a VIP Experience or Premium Backstage Tour Package — but act fast, as the latter is almost sold out.

For more about the world of Alegría, click here.

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