Patrice Lamoureaux/Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil has the French word for “circus” in its name, but Cirque's shows are far from the traditional American idea of a circus. Instead of animal acts and clowns, each Cirque du Soleil show presents a unique story line through live music, brilliant costumes and amazing acrobatics.
Cirque du Soleil's latest show, "Volta," now playing at King County's Marymoor Park, serves up all the signature feats of acrobatics and striking costumes while at the same time showcasing street sports: roller skating, BMX bikes, trampoline, breakdancing, Double Dutch jump rope and more.
While some past Cirque shows have darker elements, "Volta" is upbeat throughout, making it appropriate for all ages. The contemporary music, along with the epic street sport tricks, especially appeal to tweens and teens.
"Find Your Free" is the theme of "Volta" and its story follows a character named Waz, who is a contestant on a fictional reality TV show. Waz hopes to find fulfillment by becoming famous, but is haunted by his childhood memories of not fitting in.
The first act features flashbacks of Waz’s childhood projected onto screens as performers present different scenes. Double Dutch jump rope, juggling, roller skating and an amazing unicycle balancing act stand out from the first act, though overall it's a bit slower.
Cirque’s unique sets add character to the show. In one act, trampolines and bungee cords propel a group of acrobats in and out of the windows of a building and even onto the roof. BMX bike riders ride to the top of transparent ramps, then bounce of pads suspended above performing epic tricks in the air. Acrobats perform "shape dives" through sets of rings on stage.
Other highlights include a clown who does a mime skit in each act; his antics had my kids cracking up. As is common in Cirque shows, "Volta" includes one really unusual scene. In “Hair Suspension,” a woman hangs from her hair — via a metal ring through her bun — high above the stage as she spins and does acrobatics. It was equal parts cool and cringe… the ultimate "don’t-try-this-at-home" moment.
Overall, I found the story line a bit hard to follow. If I hadn’t read about it before the show, I doubt I would have fully understood the narrative. But the story doesn’t really matter because the show is so dazzling.
My kids really enjoyed the bright costumes, the music and the way the performers interacted with the audience, even running up and down the aisles at times. My 15-year-old daughter gave this positive review: "Volta" is now her favorite Cirque du Soleil show ever.
Parents should know
- The show runs about two hours and 15 minutes, including a roughly 25-minute intermission.
- This particular show with its high-energy acts will likely keep even elementary-aged kids engaged. Younger kids would probably enjoy it as well, but parents will know how long their child can sit.
- Snacks and drinks are available for purchase inside the Big Top, but they are very pricey. We brought in water bottles in my backpack, and even though my pack was examined, no one seemed to mind.
- Although the Big Top is a comfortable temperature inside, it is a long walk to the venue from the parking lot and you will be walking outside to get from the main tent to the seating area. Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather.
- Allow plenty of time. The lines to pay for parking were long, and ticket holders go through metal detection (with a wand) and a bag-check process that is not quick.
If you go...
When: "Volta" plays through Nov. 7, 2018, with shows generally Tuesday–Sunday. Weekends offer earlier show times, likely better for families.
Where: Under the Big Top at King County’s Marymoor Park at 6046 West Lake Sammamish Pkwy N.E. in Redmond.
Parking: There is plenty of parking but it costs $20. Cash is recommended but there was also a person taking credit cards on the night we went.
Tickets: Prices start at $39 and go up to $145, or $270 for VIP seating; book online. (Tip: Groupon sometimes has deals.)