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Love Lost: ‘Paramour’ on Broadway

June 16th, 2016 Comments off

 

'Paramour' (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

‘Paramour’ (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s inaugural Broadway venture, Paramour, which officially opened at the Lyric Theatre on May 25, has elements of a big, splashy, death-defying new musical—but they are masked by director Philippe Decoufle´and creative director Jean-Francois Bouchard’s hodgepodge telling of a young woman’s journey through the golden age of Hollywood.

Ruby Lewis in 'Paramour.' (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Ruby Lewis in ‘Paramour.’ (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

It’s challenging to know where to begin in dissecting what went wrong in Cirque’s ambitious attempt, except to say that there is something decidedly awkward about the company’s encapsulation of the American musical. Dating back to 1984, Cirque du Soleil has decades of experience in storytelling through movement, acrobatics, music and spectacle. Yet harnessing that wildly creative energy into something cohesive and emotionally resonant seems to have slipped through the creators’ hands.

The plot loosely follows the newly discovered Indigo (Ruby Lewis) as producer AJ (Jeremy Kushnier) puts her on the fast track to Hollywood stardom. Her former piano player and songwriter Joey (Ryan Vona) has fallen hard for Indigo, too, and a love triangle ensues amid the towering sets, aerial acts, and high tech distractions.

There are moments of theatrical electricity, such as a meticulously choreographed filmstrip sequence staged with reference to a flipbook. It is one of choreographer Daphné Mauger’s shining moments, whereas circus acts overshadow much of her other work. A later sequence, the “Movie Poster Montage,” incorporates innovative projection design by Olivier Simola and Christophe Waksmann that superimposes Indigo onto some of Hollywood’s most iconic posters. “Cleopatra” is probably the most classic Cirque act of the show, featuring longtime Cirque performers Andrew and Kevin Atherton.

Cirque du Soleil's 'Paramour' (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Paramour’ (Photo: Richard Termine via The Broadway Blog.)

There’s something ironic about Paramour’s arrival at the Lyric, a theater renovated for Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky’s Ragtime (then named the Ford Center for Performing Arts). That production had a budget soaring over $11 million and shuttered under the heavy operating costs. Several theatre names and productions later (including Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, with a projected loss of $60 million), one wonders if the Lyric might have an old-fashioned curse.

Or maybe, in this case, it’s simply a series of decisions that leave the audience cold. Edit Paramour down to 90 minutes and plop it in Las Vegas and you very well might have a hit. Last week (ending June 12, 2016), Paramour was at just under 75 percent capacity. Perhaps with the number of Broadway closings this summer it will gain ground. But market something as “a love story, not only for the sense of profound human emotion, but also for the love of art,” as Decouflé states in the program notes, and you’re setting up an expectation that Paramour can’t deliver.

Paramour
Lyric Theatre
213 West 42nd Street, NYC

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @roodeloo

 

 

 

Theater Buff(s): ‘Paramour”s Andrew and Kevin Atherton

May 18th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month we’re seeing double with aerial artists Andrew and Kevin Atherton, who appear in Cirque du Soleil’s first venture on Broadway: Paramour.

Andrew and Kevin Atherton in Cirque du Soleil's 'Paramour.' (Photo: Matt Beard via The Broadway Blog.)

Andrew and Kevin Atherton in Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Paramour.’ (Photo: Matt Beard via The Broadway Blog.)

Names:
Andrew and Kevin Atherton

Hometown:
Wigan, Lancashire, United Kingdom. [A county to the north and west of Manchester.]

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Greg Gorman via The Broadway Blog.)

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Greg Gorman via The Broadway Blog.)

You’ve been performing with Cirque du Soleil for more than 16 years — how is Paramour different than the previous shows?
Andi and Kevin: Paramour combines musical theater with Cirque du Soleil and is a blend of the two otherwise very separate worlds. With Paramour we follow a very clear, linear story, told with lyrics, text, dance and acrobatics. This is something very different from our previous shows. We feel privileged and proud to be part of something like Paramour.

You famously performed in Varekai for more than 3,000 performances without ever missing a show, but what happens when one of you gets sick? Is there a hidden triplet to step in?
Andi and Kevin: There’s no hidden triplet to step in! Yes, we have been sick on numerous occasions during our time with Cirque du Soleil. Our passion for the stage and performance, along with a good adrenaline boost once we enter the stage, has meant we’ve been able to work though these obstacles. We honestly love every part of what we do, and we’d miss it if we weren’t able to perform for any reason.

(Photo provided by Andrew and Kevin Atherton, via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo provided by Andrew and Kevin Atherton, via The Broadway Blog.)

If I weren’t an aerialist, I’d be:
Kevin: Fat and hairy.

Andi: Fatter and harrier.

Which is your favorite? Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
Andi: All of the above. I love to perform.

Kevin: Places. I love the energy backstage before the show begins. Especially at Paramour. It’s electric.

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Dawn Bowery via The Broadway Blog.)

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Dawn Bowery via The Broadway Blog.)

Our favorite best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
Andi and Kevin: The New York Beer Company. It’s near the theatre and has a fun, relaxed atmosphere. It’s a great place to meet friends after the show.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Andi and Kevin: The High Line. This elevated parkway offers many great views of the city.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Andi: On a beach somewhere.

Kevin:  I’m a West Coast kind of guy. I love Los Angeles, so I’d probably live in the hills of West Hollywood.

Our workout “secret” is:
Andi and Kevin: Never lifting weights that are too heavy to compromise your technique. Doing so will only risk injury. We always concentrate on our form no matter what exercise we’re doing.

Our favorite website that you may not have heard of is:
Andi and Kevin: Houzz.com — It’s a favorite of ours, as we both love interior design and architecture.

People would be surprised to learn that we . . .
Andi and Kevin: Drink beer and eat burgers.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Andi: Happy, healthy, and surrounded by my family.

Kevin: A father!

Paramour opens May 25 at the Lyric Theatre. Click here for ticket information.

(Photo provided by Kevin and Andrew Atherton via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo provided by Kevin and Andrew Atherton via The Broadway Blog.)

Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @roodeloo.