Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo Teems with Excitement for Bug-Loving Children, and Grown Ups Too
Insects Abound and Delight in Show of Biodiversity and Movement of Life
Molt, the daft but good-hearted grasshopper from Disney’s’ A Bug’s Life movie, said it best. “The circus, the circus, I love the circus.” If you love bugs, and you love the circus, then Ovo is your insect dream come true.
Playing now through March 18 at the Santa Monica Pier, The Cirque du Soleil tent show is set in the Brazilian rain forest where a number of exotic bugs come out to fly, twirl, contort, and otherwise perform seemingly humanly impossible feats and gravity defying acts.
Ova, named in Portuguese for the giant egg that that is center stage when the lights come up, is one of the most kid-friendly of the Cirque shows. I recall seeing Kooza a few years ago at the same parking-lot stage when a small child behind our party screamed out, “I’m scared; I want to go home,” when eerie skeleton-like figures clawed the air in front of us.
There was none of that for my four-year-old son who sat rapt by Ovo’s acrobatic ants, scarabs, crickets, spiders, fleas and other wildly costumed creepy crawlers. I explained to my son before the show it would be like a live version of his favorite scene in the classic Halle Mills Disney movie “Summer Magic,” where bugs jig to strands of dulcimer music. Ovo did not disappoint. From the opening act — in which a sleekly Spandexed blue dragonfly, Orvalho, balances himself on one hand on an oversized plant tendril, jumping to the other hand, and then rotating — my son was mesmerized.
The kid-friendly story of Ovo is much simpler than some of the other Cirque plots, revolving around a newcomer to the fecund forest, a stinger-headed egg-toting fly named Foreigner. He falls for a bubbly flirty Ladybug and gets courtship advice from the self-appointed mayor of the bug world, a paunchy, officious, but likeable Master Flipo, perhaps a grand dragonfly.
Highlights include an entrancing spider who traverses a slackwire tether, building to a rolling ride atop an upside-down unicycle; a stunning aerial act of scarabs combining banquine, Russian swing and swinging chair circus disciplines; and a finale of an exhilarating army of 20 arthropod artists who use trampolines and a power track to bound up the side of a vertical wall in a coordinated crisscrossing procession.
Even for a four-year-old, at a show that began at the bedtime hour of 8 pm, the three-hour performance scampered by quickly, leaving us all as aflutter as the paper butterflies that rained down on the audience as the stage went dark and night fell in the forest.
“Ovo,” by Cirque du Soleil. Santa Monica Pier. 8 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays; 4 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays; 1 and 5 p.m., Sundays. $31.50-$145 (VIP tickets are available at $270). www.cirquedusoleil.com/ovo or (800) 450-1480. Running time: approximately 3 hours.