Cirque du Soleil has soared into the Forest City.
Toruk, the First Flight is inspired by James Cameron’s box office hit Avatar. This acrobatic prequel to the film is set thousands of years before man ever stepped foot onto the soil of Pandora. Everything worn and brought on stage is accurate to the movie, and the whole shebang is James Cameron approved.
The captivating story tells the adventures of three young teenagers on a quest to save Pandora from impending doom. With lava on its way to destroy the Tree of Souls and end life as they know it, the band of misfits must obtain certain objects to save the day.
To complete the task, one boy must do what seemed to be the impossible. Fly the Toruk, a mythical flying beast from Pandora, for the very first time in Pandora history (in Avatar, they fly the creature for the sixth time).
There are a few things that make this production so different than anything Cirque du Soleil has done before. The cast and crew took full advantage of all the kinds of technology at their disposal. The creative minds in the set department used upwards of 40 projectors to set the scenes. One moment, you would be looking at a desert, then a river, and then you would see what appeared to be lava filling the stadium.
Another new idea they brought to life was the use of puppets. Prop and costume designers created outfits for actors to wear and become different creatures from Pandora. The secret behind these costumes were small cameras in the front that allowed the actors to see.
While new technology and living puppets provided an extra oomph on stage, perhaps the most unique thing about Toruk was the focus on the storyline. Every Cirque du Soleil tells a story through actors’ movement and props, but this time around they decided to try something new.
An English speaking narrator was used to tell the tale for the first time in franchise history. What he had to say made it easier to follow along with each new development the production had.
With this addition, Toruk became more of an intense play, rather than just a circus act. The amazing talent the acrobats had is still showcased; however the play aspect of the show made it more engaging for a lot of audience members.
Publicist for Toruk, the First Flight, Laura Silverman, says since this is more of a theatrical production, audiences can forget to cheer and clap for the actors. “Of course bring your energy and put your emotions out there, and get involved in the story”. She also adds that audience participation makes the experience of Cirque du Soleil more fun to be involved with.
Each performance can be nerve racking. Actors must perform in front of thousands of spectators each night. Actress Zoe Sabattie tells XFM how she calms down before a show.
“I like to do a bit of meditation, and just, like, close my eyes and go quickly through every emotion I go through in the show”.
She also quickly goes through her routines to prepare for the journey that is ahead.
Toruk, the First Flight, started their world tour in November of 2015, starting in Las Angeles. Although they didn’t officially premier until December in Montreal. London is the 23rd stop out of a total of 38 North American venues. The North American tour dates end in Winnipeg in October. That will give them time to relax before heading to Asia in 2017.
Toruk, the First Flight is playing every night at the Budweiser Gardens from May 25 until May 29.