“42FT” — A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels is no ordinary circus. This performance, is the reimagination of a traditional circus put on by Cirque Mechanics, a California-based production company specializing in machinery and circus acrobatics.
While there were no live tigers or elephants, the performance was full of acrobats, contortionists, jugglers and strongmen that kept the audience laughing and clapping for two acts. The show combined elements of storytelling and mechanical gadgetry with all of the fan-favorite circus acts to deliver a new take on the conventional circus.
Cirque Mechanics made its debut in Auburn on Wednesday, Oct. 30, unveiling its circus performance with a twist to a sold-out audience at the Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center, ending the night with a standing ovation.
John Hinson, an accountant in Birmingham, said his experience was “fantastic” and that “the show was very funny.”
Cirque Mechanics was founded in 2004 by Chris Lashua, a Boston native with creative and engineering experience working with Cirque du Soleil, Circus Center of San Francisco and BMX.
The set design for Lashua’s current show involves a 42-foot ring rigged with equipment necessary to pull off a trapeze performance, rotating ladder, tight-rope walking and more.
Rebecca Gibson, an employee in the department of outreach at Auburn University was particularly impressed by the acrobatic performers.
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“The strength that all of these athletes have is astounding,” Gibson said.
Cirque Mechanics performance was Gibson’s first visit to the Gogue Center. Gibson said she was impressed by the building and its ability to incorporate acts like this. She said she looks forward to future events held at the Gogue Performing Arts Center
The show invites its audience to step into the circus world by revealing the talents of the circus performers and life outside the circus.
The performance incorporates the story of a poor man in pedestrian clothes who is unassociated with the circus, but eagerly peers over a prop fence at the performance and hangs posters advertising the event. This clown-like character, played by Justin Therrien, entertained the audience with short interruptions from the regular circus acts with his miming, juggling and trumpet-playing talents.
Tracy Newell, coordinator of communications, marketing and events for the provost at Auburn University, said Therrien’s performance was her favorite of the night and she especially enjoyed Therrien’s ability to involve the crowd.
“He was energetic, fun and intriguing,” Newell said.
In the first act, Therrien pulled an audience member, Jay Harris, an HR Manager at Donaldson Company, onto the stage to join him and engage in a humorous skit.
Harris said he was unaware that he would be pulled into the show, but it was fun nonetheless. Harris attended the show with his wife and children.
“They were a little embarrassed, but they thought it was funny,” Harris said.
This show is just one of 27 shows set to perform at the GPAC this season, said Jonthan Osborne, director of marketing and communications for GPAC.
“We’ve had a lot of shows sell out before the public even has a chance to purchase tickets,” Osborne said.
The GPAC has hosted performers such as Renée Fleming, who has been awarded the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, a cabaret performance by two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster and DIAVOLO: Architecture in Motion, a Los Angeles-based dance company.
“Fans of theatre and lovers of performance art do not have to worry if they have missed these shows, however,” Osborne said. “There is still a long list of upcoming shows for this season, such as the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Waitress, The Beach Boys, tap dance company Dorrance Dance and many more.”
Osborne anticipates a growth of theater and art appreciation in the future with the presence of the GPAC in Auburn.
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