Cirque du Soleil performers to bring circus acts to MU

Former Cirque du Soleil members will bring a mix of theater and acrobatics to Jesse Auditorium on Tuesday.
Courtesy of WonderWorld Entertainment

Be prepared for dancing, flying, acrobatics, comedy and music in the form of Cirque Montage in Jesse Auditorium this Tuesday.

Cirque Montage, created by Michael Manzanet, tells the story of a Ringmaster who wishes to direct his own film and a red featherless acro-dancing bird named Raven who wishes for fame. Performers ranging from aerialists to jugglers accompany the duo on stage.

Manzanet was inspired to create the show partly because of his background in Cirque du Soleil. While Cirque Montage is not a production of Cirque du Soleil, Manzanet said it has a similar feel and many of the performers are former members of Cirque du Soleil.

Manzanet took the most popular acts of Cirque du Soleil and placed them in a montage.

“(The show) is a melting pot of art, just like New York City is a melting pot,” Manzanet said.

The show is less theatrical than Cirque du Soleil, Manzanet said.

“It’s definitely a scaled down show of a Cirque production,” Manzanet said. “The goal was to focus on the performer.”

Carlos Ragas plays the role of the Ringmaster. Unlike similar productions, he communicates in English as opposed to pantomime or gibberish.

As a performer, Ragas never expected to end up in his current line of work. Having no previous experience, he applied to clown school as a joke and surprisingly was accepted.

“I ended up not going to college, and ran away with the circus,” Ragas said. “I hate to use this term, but I didn't choose it – it chose me.”

Ragas became a part of Cirque Montage when his long time friend Manzanet asked him to join. He has been in the business for 25 years and absolutely loves his job. He wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, he said.

“Every once in a while you step back and you look at (the performers) and they're just doing their acts and you just say 'wow, these are my friends,'” Ragas said.

Manzanet and Ragas said that the best part of the show is the audience interaction. In the second act the Ringmaster comes out into the crowd and involves some of the audience when he finally gets to direct his movie.

“I mean you've got to bring them up on stage, everyone wants to go on stage, don't cha?” Ragas said.

Audience members will have the opportunity to take pictures, meet and get autographs from the performers. Tickets range from $22 to $32 and are half-price for MU students.They can be purchased online at www.concertseries.org.

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