Reviewed by Kevin Pollack
Walking into the big circus tent known as Cirque du Soleil for one of their most adventurous shows, La Nouba, was like walking into a dream. The show resides in a custom-built, state-of-the-art theater, located in the heart of Downtown Disney Springs West Side in the Walt Disney World® Resort. It became Cirque’s third resident show after Mystère and O in Las Vegas. The show premiered on December 23, 1998, and since its launch, La Nouba has entertained over 9 million guests and has performed over 7,100 shows.
Before the show officially began, the Cirque clowns were already interacting with the audience, behaving almost like a Laurel and Hardy. Not only in the pre-show, but throughout the show, when these two came out, they never failed to send the audience into fits of laughter.
The Diabolos were some of the most impressive performers, belying their youth and size. The diabolo, or Chinese yo-yo, is a children’s game first introduced into the realm of the arts in Cirque du Soleil’s Quidam. This entrancing act featured four young Chinese performers, holding two sticks linked by a string. They slid, juggled, and tossed a musical wooden spool while spinning and flipping their young bodies. Demonstrating increasingly difficult maneuvers, the artists attempted to outdo each other in dexterity and ingenuity. These young women displayed an impeccable amount of stability and focus.
Later on, the Cycles trick-riding act proved to be unique because they rode not motorcycles, but bicycles. The first rider expertly executed incredible tricks such as G-turns, boomerangs, and megaspins, all accompanied by precise footwork. The second half of the act featured another artist whose hard-to-believe stunts included riding over obstacles without ever putting his feet down, jumping off high platforms, hopping down steps and into the audience on one wheel, and even jumping over an artist and a guest before literally plunging into the bowels of the stage.
Although the theater fits 1,671, it seemed a little empty for a Friday night, but the excitement and energy filled the vacant spaces. The snappy, 90-minute spectacle could easily have gone longer. Only six musicians comprised the orchestra, playing 22 instruments and mixing rock, pop, jazz, and more traditional circus music. The 67-member cast of La Nouba hails from Russia, Canada, the US, China, Japan, Ukraine, Brazil, Poland, France, Peru, Mexico, the UK, Australia, and Belarus. Even if you don’t go to World Showcase at Epcot, you can experience the variety all in one room.
The 90-minute performance (no intermission) plays at 6:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The show is dark on Sundays, Mondays, and select periods throughout the year. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, at the plaza level of the theater, by calling (407) 939-7328 or on www.cirquedusoleil.com/lanouba. Please consult the website for current pricing. Group discounts are available by calling (866) 353-5625 or (702) 352-0197. Gift certificates can be purchased at the box office or by calling (407) 934-7639.