ONTARIO, CA-There was an invasion of blue people at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California recently. No, it wasn’t the Blue Man Group, but the talented performers of Cirque du Soleil and their production of Toruk: The First Flight, an idea taken from James Cameron’s film, Avatar.
The show is set 3,000 years before the events in Avatar and begins with the Na’vi Storyteller (narrator) capably played by actor Raymond O’neill. In his sterling bass voice that was one of the highlights of the production and heard throughout, he explained the legend which involves a volcanic disaster that threatens the Tree of Souls.
Na’vi lore anticipates the disaster and suggests a solution — a warrior must gather up an amulet from each of the five Na’vi tribes and ride the huge flying predator Tourk to the Tree’s rescue. It’s a journey across the moon Pandora with three brave Na’vi buddies.
Ralu (Jeremiah Hughes), Entu (Daniel Crispin, and Tsyal (Zoe Sabattie), a young female from another tribe who resists her parents to join them.
The journey comes alive with Cirque’s trademark special effects — multimedia projection gave us the illusion of lava flowing and the Na’vi rock climbers falling off of the mountain during the earthquake.
The glowing jellyfish floating across the stage and performers dressed in mesmerizing, giant, butterfly-like colorful overhead fans (kites) attached to their waists that converted into dress-trains as they left the stage were two of the other bright spots of the many.
The set is a highly-stimulating colorful landscape, but there are no trademark death-defying acts. Instead, the movement of the characters becomes the focus of the Pandoran world.
The tribal sound of drumming begins the show and is heard throughout while tribesmen jump through hoops, twirl fire, perform aerial skills and the famous Cirque contortionists balance on a moving seesaw made of bones. One Na’vi throwing boomerangs, three simultaneously, got a roar of applause from the crowd.
This species of Cirque may not have the usual death-defying exercises, but what it lacks in this area is made up for in its creative visual magnificence and use of technology.
Other appearances in SoCal include a visit to The Forum Jan. 12-15, 2017. For more information, go to: www.cirquedusoleil.com/toruk
Steven LIeberman is a veteran sports/arts/entertainment journalist. Lieberman has covered entertainment and professional sports, Including the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, for the past 14 years. Among his entertainment work, Lieberman covers concerts, theatre and events.