OVO, an eggcellent Cirque du Soleil

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Photo: Danielle Burns

The blue fly arrives with a big egg – OVO – on his back, to the wonder and curiosity of the other insects. 

The Cirque du Soleil's OVO celebrates the natural world, a world teeming with insect life in all its glorious colours and shapes. OVO delighted its audience on opening night, November 23, at the Videotron Centre. 

The show premiered the first time in 2009 under the Big Top in Quebec City so, while it's not exactly new, it doesn't disappoint. The word ovo - from the Latin (and Portuguese) word for egg - designates an important symbol, an egg whose life cycle we follow throughout the performance. 

Much of the inspiration for the ecosystem setting comes from writer, director and choreographer Deborah Colker's native Brazil. The band of eight musicians, half of whom (including the lead singer) hail from Brazil, were led by Brazilian producer, composer and conductor Berna Ceppas. Instrument-wielding cockroaches played fiddles, accordions, banjos and more, to lend a fiesta atmosphere to the performance. 

Brazilian rhythms such as the Samba were varied to include the occasional quiet moment, during which the audience could watch and wonder at the delicate beauty of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. 

The set and props, with their irregular, organic feel, were designed by Brazilian Gringo Cardio. Before the show even begins, as we enter the amphitheatre we are overwhelmed by the presence of a glowing, moon-like egg - and it is huge - measuring 28 feet wide and 23 feet high.  

A Canadian hand-to-hand duo (Catherine Audy and Alexis Trudel) got the loudest applause from the audience, after the pair's sensuous pas de deux using aerial straps on which they soared like butterflies. 

Regular Cirque goers may have seen similar acts at other performances, but the interpretation - the energy and novelty of the story, and the absolutely stunning costumes - makes the show awesome. It is the story of insects and their daily occupations: hunting for food, fighting, finding love, and working - but also enjoying life playfully (something we humans could learn from). 

The sheer colour and constant movement during OVO is family-friendly and will hold young ones' attention. Five-year-old Elisa from France was sitting on a kiwi cushion that resembled the food collected and foot-juggled by the hard-working red ants at the beginning of the show. Her favourite character was the strange blue fly who arrives carrying a huge egg on his back: he's "the one who says anything!" she laughed. 

This randy fly (played by Quebecer François-Guillaume Leblanc) gets smitten with love at first sight ("Hello baby!") by a plump ladybug who doesn't know her own strength, but is flattered and equally interested. The courtship between this odd couple continues throughout the show, resulting in a clear storyline easily followed by children and adults, with costumes and characters sure to astonish. 

If you missed OVO in Quebec City there are still tickets available for the Montreal show, from November 29 to December 4. Visit www.cirquedusoleil.com for more information.