Is Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA good for kids?

Update (4/25/17):  Add the jaw-dropping touch of Cirque du Soleil to Mother’s Day this year with LUZIA, a waking dream of Mexico. For a limited time only, tickets in price levels 1,2 & 3 are 20% off for selected Seattle performances of LUZIA scheduled through May 21st under the Big Top at King County’s Marymoor Park. For more information about this offer, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/usa/seattle/deals. Regular tickets for all Seattle performances of LUZIA are available online at www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia.

 

Sick of this Seattle Rain? Dreaming of the colors, sounds, and beasts of Mexico? You don’t have to go any further than Redmond’s Marymoor Park, where the creative geniuses at Cirque du Soleil have dreamed up an interpretation of Mexico like you’ve never seen before!

The title of this Cirque Show – “Luzia” – is a portmanteau of the Spanish words for light (“luz”) and rain (“illuvia”). Both light and rain are big themes in the show, with a giant omnipresent, medallion-shaped set piece that changes color, and a water feature that emulates rain showers and is used extensively to breathtaking effect. There are over 90 thousand tiny holes on the stage to drain the water, but the setup still requires some in-between acts shenanigans to clean and dry the stage.

My companion and I were torn on the goofy clown that performed between acts and helped create a (somewhat) cohesive narrative. I thought he was funny and charming, she felt the show would have been just fine without him. I think kids will love his ridiculous antics. From his introduction in the opening minutes in a skydiving bit to his silly interactions with the crowd using only a lifeguard’s whistle, his European style (no makeup!) of clowning is delightful!

Soccer as a circus art! Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.

Clowning aside, hand-balancers, hoop riders, giant puppets, trapeze and adagio artists are the main thrill here, but the supporting performers dressed as armadillos and cockroaches that are peppered throughout the acts are sure to be a huge hit with kids. There are also talented jugglers, crazy soccer-ball tricks, and an unbelievable contortionist.  Luzia has something for everyone.

A highlight for me was seeing Seattle-native Kelly MacDonald perform. You could feel the local love for MacDonald, who performs as the flier in a type of acrobatic art called “Adagio”. Hearing the crowd cheer for MacDonald as the Adagio porters threw and caught her, balanced her, and even used her as a human jump rope was delightful, and the Adagio act is one of the most captivating in the show.

Cirque performer and Seattle-Native Kelly McDonald in the Adagio Routine. Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil.

I highly recommend Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia for any kids who are able to sit still and quiet for its two hour and 25 minute running time. There is a 25 minute intermission halfway through, but be forewarned, we spent almost that whole time waiting in line for the bathrooms, which are in trailers (but are clean, well lit, and much better than the standard porta-potty – they flush!).

Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia runs now through May 21st at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA. Tickets are available HERE.

 

 

Beauty and the Beast (2017): A Parents’ Guide

Beauty and the Beast (2017): A Parents’ Guide

 

The 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast is pretty unnecessary.  It is a sometimes shot-for-shot remake of the beloved 1991 Disney Animated feature (fun fact: Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture – Up and Toy Story 3 have been nominated since).  Does its redundancy make it any less fun or fabulous? No, it does not.

It was super-fun to see the world of this beloved Disney classic reinterpreted in a live-action setting. With this new update, we also get an extended look at the palace and its inhabitants before and after the transformation.  We also get a tiny bit more of a backstory for the Beast, my guess is that this was done to make him more sympathetic and to tone down the whole Stockholm Syndrome situation.  We get to see Belle as an inventor, and as a caring teacher to children in her village. I very much appreciated the fleshing out of one of my favorite Disney princesses. They even threw a few new songs in, while keeping all of the old favorites.

This new imagining of Beauty and the Beast also introduces Disney’s first obviously gay character. While Gaston’s sidekick Le Fou was definitely coded gay in the original animated film, there is no doubt about it in this film.  While it was acknowledged with a wink and nod throughout the film, there is a blink and you’ll miss it moment at the end that confirms Le Fou’s preferences in a totally lovely and kid-friendly way.  I’m so excited for all the gay kids out there who finally get to see themselves represented (however briefly) in a Disney film.

So what should parents be aware of? I thought it was interesting that although I knew the plot of the movie, I found that seeing real-live people in the same peril was much scarier.  Seeing a real man being chased by live wolves was pretty intense, as was seeing a real group of villagers attempting to raid the Beast’s castle. The frenzy caused by Gaston wanting to kill the Beast may be hard for younger viewers to understand and may make a good talking point for after the film. I had actually forgotten what a rough song “Kill the Beast” was until I saw this again, and it was another instance where I think the cartoon provided a nice buffer that is absent in the live-action version. There is also a few instances of gun violence and a moment where the Beast says that he is “damned”.  Gaston dies (look, it’s not a spoiler, this movie has been out for 25 years).

So what age is Beauty and the Beast good for? Beauty and the Beast is okay for ages 6 and up.  If you child is younger than 6 or is very sensitive, I’d wait to watch this one at home.  It also has a relatively long running time of 129 minutes, something to keep in mind before taking small bladders to the theater.

One last warning: Be Our Guest is just as much of an ear worm as it was in 1991.  I haven’t stopped singing it since I saw the film three days ago!

Lego Batman: A Parents’ Guide

I didn’t want to leave my house to go the press screening of Lego Batman that I was invited to. Kitty had spent the previous three days sick, so I hadn’t slept. Nate was at Robotics, so he couldn’t join me, and Rick couldn’t join me because Nate couldn’t babysit.  I was tired, I was cranky, and I was going to have to go alone.  I was really hesitant to go, but I knew that a bunch of you would want to know what ages this is appropriate for, and I didn’t want to let you, dear reader, down (plus it was free).  I’m so glad I went.  I forgot about all of my problems for 90 minutes. Lego Batman is the movie America needs right now.

Most of the time, when I start these movie reviews I consult the good folks at Common Sense Media.  They get to see the movies even sooner than I do, and since they tend to be more conservative on what they consider potentially objectionable, I sometimes reconsider my suggestions based on what they say.  Common Sense Media and I pretty much agreed on this one. It’s very silly, but clever  It manages to be heartwarming with tons of positive messages, and  still be really, really funny.

If your kid is extra sensitive, it might be hard to see the characters constantly in peril – but other than that it’s family-friendly flick. A friend reported that their three year old lost the plot and got bored about half-way through, but getting bored is a pretty common thing for a three year old. There’s no real bad language, though there is mild name calling and teasing (someone gets called a loser). There are a lot of explosions, injuries, and explosions, but since it’s all Lego, it all gets put back together pretty easily.  I really enjoyed that the filmmakers highlighted Batman as a “master builder” who uses his skills and creativity to solve his problems. I also really liked that Batman showed a lot of personal growth over the course of the movie.  Finally, as the sister of adoptees, and as a family that has close friends we call aunts and uncles, I loved the message that families are made of the people who love you.

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