Even if you get covered in popcorn, you won't want to stop the clown from posing as an usher and engaging in some pre-show debauchery with the crowd. With his black suit and disheveled gray hair, he has no problem amusing people. The clown is zany, mischievous and your first exposure to the unknown at Mystère by Cirque du Soleil at Treasure Island. What's ahead is a wondrous world of mystifying creatures who perform a series of incredible acrobatic and gymnastic feats.
When Mystère opened in 1993, the show was the first Cirque du Soleil production in Vegas. Emphasizing awe-inspiring athleticism and imaginative imagery, it embraces all of the signature Cirque du Soleil elements that have made the production company a mainstay on the Las Vegas Strip.
From rebirth to the pursuit of happiness, each of the characters and acts in Mystère symbolizes something different. They combine to create an overall theme for the show as a celebration of the circle of life. Some audience members may interpret each act as an allegory, but with the innovative costumes and performances, realizing those themes isn't necessary for enjoying this show.
What makes Mystère so endearing is that many of the performances are typical circus-style acts like the flying trapeze, an aerialist and the teeterboard, an acrobatic tool where a person jumps on one end of what looks like a seesaw and the person on the other end is launched into the air. However, in Mystère, the boundaries of those disciplines are pushed, creating fantastical routines that you won't see in any other production.
For instance, in the hand-to-hand routine, two muscular men demonstrate a series of gravity-defying poses and their incredible strength, but they don't even perform on a flat surface. In Mystère, the men do this while balancing on a rotating dome, adding to the awesomeness of their routine.
The Tissu act is another example. In this routine a female aerialist performs while suspending herself with two pieces of fabric hanging from the ceiling. This type of act can be seen in other shows on the Strip, but in Mystère the performer combines contortion, acrobatics and movement in her routine, creating optical illusions that defy imagination.
Music played by live musicians and singers drives the show. Mixing elements of everything from rock to Celtic, African and soul music, the soundtrack is just as mysterious as the action on stage.
Along with awe-inspiring moments, Mystère offers a hearty does of comedy brought on by the clown "usher" and an adult-sized baby. They appear on stage throughout the show. The clown and baby don’t tell jokes, but their wacky antics and interactions with the audience make people laugh. It's hard not to chuckle when you see a man on stage wearing a diaper and a bonnet.
When the comedy segments come to a close, the show quickly changes pace. Once again the audience is sitting in amazement at another thrilling routine. One of these is the Chinese Poles. For this act a group of gymnasts perform on four vertical poles. They crawl, jump and flip up, down and across the poles. Their masks add to the implausibility of their performance. While their bodies face away from the audience, their masks are looking right at them. It seems impossible, but then again, this is Mystère.
-- By Caroline Fontein