PHOTO CALL: Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana

News   PHOTO CALL: Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana Zarkana, Cirque du Soleil's new $50 million acrobatic spectacle built especially for Radio City Music Hall and featuring music by Elton John protégé Nick Littlemore, plays a world-premiere engagement at the historic venue in New York City.

Previews began June 9 at Radio City Music Hall at 50th Street and Sixth Avenue. Performances play to Oct. 8.

The European-influenced proscenium circus-show is punctuated by a fierce lady juggler in fishnet stockings, a "sand painter" who creates images in a surface of sand (projected on a screen), three nervous-making aerial balance acts (one called "Wheel of Death," no less), a highwire team that rises from the stage, a "flag manipulation team," monochromatic-garbed clowns and ponderous, atmospheric pop songs (the band is live) sung by a bereft magician/impresario named Zark, in search of his absent lady love, Lia. The actress who plays Lia also embodies several mysterious and menacing other women — including a spider-woman who dangles threateningly in mid-air — throughout the two-act Zarkana. (There's even a nod to Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark and Mary Poppins in a bit that involves a clown who flies over the audience.)

Here is a look at the production:

The new Cirque show takes us to "a fantastically bizarre world where we follow the adventures of Zark, a magician who has lost his love and, with her, his powers," according to production notes. "As he cries and begs for her return he is plunged into a world inhabited by surreal creatures. The diverse cast of international artists transports the audience into a fantastical and suspenseful world, blurring the boundaries between the real and imaginary."

Presented by iShares, Zarkana is written and directed by acclaimed film and theatre director François Girard ("The Red Violin," "Silk"). Composer Littlemore is an Australian musician and producer, known as frontman of acclaimed electronic act Pnau (with Peter Mayes) and one part of electro pop-duo Empire of the Sun (with Luke Steele). He is also a member of art-rock band Teenager (with Pip Brown a.k.a Ladyhawke).

Tickets range from $47 to $130 with a limited number of premium tickets available for all performances. Cirque Club membership is free, and benefits include access to advance tickets, special offers and exclusive behind the scenes information. To join, go to www.cirqueclub.com.

For tickets, call (866) 858-0008 or visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/zarkana.

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From a group of 20 street performers at its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil is now a major Quebec-based organization with 5,000 employees, including more than 1,200 performing artists from close to 50 different countries.

For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.

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