In a desperate grasp for fame, Waz, who hails from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, competes on the Mr. Wow Show. The host, Mr. Wow, is opinionated, finicky, and monumentally arrogant. He also has the power to either catapult a contestant to instant celebrity status or completely stomp out their career. Waz delivers a flawless routine and it looks like his star is rising. However, Mr. Wow’s distaste for headwear prompts him to remove the dancer’s cap, revealing Waz’s head full of vibrant blue feathers. Instead of becoming famous, the hopeful talent is mercilessly ridiculed for his resplendent plumage.
Finding the inner strength to rise from the ashes and be recognized for one’s true self is a theme common to many Cirque du Soleil storylines. But something really resonates with VOLTA, making this new Big Top production a spellbinding masterpiece that celebrates the uniqueness of each individual’s spirit. The show takes place under the Big Top – an incredible circus complex that was erected just for the production – located adjacent to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania. It runs now through August 19.
This production is set in a universe that could be our own. Members of a street gang called The Greys – of which Waz is a part of – are zombified by their own cell phones and wander about without color or purpose. The Freespirits, on the other hand, strive to help others evolve into their true selves. They are loving, alive, and free. Ela, a member of The Freespirits, has taken an interest in Waz and wants to help him transcend The Greys.
As Waz travels along his personal path of enlightenment in a story that happens in the present, but features flashbacks to his youth, the cast’s incredible feats of athleticism and grace serve as a metaphor for Waz’s evolving emotional state and the rising of his free spirit.
VOLTA has a bit more of an urban edge to it than previous Cirque du Soleil shows. The spectacular performances revolve around mind-blowing rope skipping, innovative parkour, contemporary dancing, and unparalleled BMX tricks – both flatland and park.
The set contains powerful hydraulics that can elevate and lower various portions of the revolving stage as well as a 5,000-pound bridge. A cascade of ever-moving parts turns the performance area into a kaleidoscopic wonderland that seems to be truly alive. In one magical moment, the scene transforms from a sparse dance floor into a full-blown BMX park while the audience gazes in awe. The ramps of the park are made of a transparent heavy-duty polycarbonate that allows the audience to see through them as the riders unleash their dazzle.
As with any Cirque du Soleil show, the costumes are extravagant. For instance, Mr. Wow wears a golden coat that would make even King Midas envious. The bold look of VOLTA‘s wardrobe was designed by Zaldy Goco, who is famous for his work with Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and other celebrity fashion icons.
Fun Fact: It took roughly 1,500 blue feathers to create Waz’s headdress.
Lastly, the music of VOLTA is phenomenal! Anthony Gonzalez’s cinematic approach coupled with his use of rich and colorful textures make this one of the most beautiful scores in Cirque du Soleil’s long history. It is powerful, emotional, melodic, and triumphant.
VOLTA is an acrobatic tour de force. This captivating work will amaze and delight audiences of all ages. Come to the Big Top at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania and accompany Waz on his astounding journey. Performances run through August 19.
Featured photo: VOLTA “Guardian Angel”: in the City by Michael Kass, costume Zaldy Goco.