(Several women representing Mauro the Dreamer Clown’s former loves, in Corteo by Cirque du Soleil, perform aerial acrobatics on three giant chandeliers during a performance at The WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario, on May 15, 2019. Photo above by Don Davenport / Eyes On Windsor.)
In the world of Cirque du Soleil, people and even beds can fly. Nowhere is this more evident than in the latest iteration of Corteo, which opened Wednesday night at Windsor’s WFCU Centre and will be in town for performances over the next three days.
To set the stage, the Cirque producers turned the hockey rink into a grand theatre of ample size to hold a masterful stage production which is, actually, a clown’s imagined funeral.
As audience members enter the main bowl of the WFCU Centre they are greeted with a towering backdrop rising the full height of the arena carefully decorated as an old age showplace like no other. What happens on its revolving stage can be seen from both sides of the arena.
There is much singing, much dancing and much frivolity, yet there is enough for the cast to be reminded the event is a funeral. But it is not a normal funeral. Corteo, by definition, is Italian for joyous procession, exactly what a clown would most likely imagine for his funeral.
Launched in 2005, there have been over 4,000 performances of Corteo around the world. Initially, like most Cirque productions it was staged in a tent. A revamp produced the current arena version which has totaled over 300 enactments. Windsor viewers will delight in a recently reenergized performance with some new sections that were not executed when the show arrived in Detroit earlier this year.
And despite its large cast there are standout performers. Most notable is Vancouver’s Santé Fortunato whose roles include working the chandeliers high above the stage and a spectacular hula hoop number done, like most other parts of the show, on a bed.
Probably the most lovable is the dreamer clown himself, played by Manuel Fernández Rodríguez. He earns one of the shows best laughs. While playing with a ball, probably on purpose, it flies into the audience. A courteous audience member throws it back causing Rodriguez to stand sternly while telling the pitcher, “don’t play with my ball.”
Without question, Victorino Lujan, of Buneos Airies, earns a large spot in most of the audience’s hearts, which is good. Standing at 6’9”, and with ample girth, he is a most wonderful giant clown. One of his most delightful acts is an almost pantomime in which he uses an oversized golf club to hit the head of an actor playing the role of the ball.
The troupe’s acrobats have no shortage of talent and no scarcity of props including using large rings and rolling about the stage. They also take to jumping on anything that can move, such as teeter totters and beds embedded with trampolines. Possibly, when they were children they failed to pay heed to their parents admonitions about bed jumping. And, just to shake up the routine up a bit, they also toss a few acrobats around in a new addition to the performance.
As the action continues a group of highly talented musicians provide everything needed using guitars, electric and acoustic, violins, accordions and the particular drumming of Brazilian Alex Reis. It is his steady and methodical beat that ties the show together in a manner well reminiscent of a circus and is matched with the outstanding fret work of upright bassist Bobby Brennan.
Music director for the show is one of Leamington’s newest residents, Roger Hewett.
There is a certain netherworld feel about the production. It is set neither on earth nor in heaven but somewhere in between, somewhere able to host a most fascinating clown’s funeral that has surreal elements and incredibly talented dancers, and aerial artists.
Performances are planned for 7:30 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a matinee at 3:30 on Saturday and final two shows Sunday at 1pm and 5pm.
For more information about Cirque du Soleil, or to purchase tickets, please visit https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/canada/windsor/corteo/buy-tickets or visit the Eyes On Windsor Corteo Event Listing.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.
Photos by Don Davenport
In addition to being an audio engineer and musician, Don is a passionate photographer and owner of Detroit’s ‘Mission Photography and Design’. He has shot many commercial projects, including music industry and food related, for many businesses. He does family portraits, and event photography including weddings, corporate and live entertainment. Don also shoots custom, classics, muscle/hotrods, and vintage automobiles for various entities. Don’s work can be viewed on Flickr, and on the Mission Photography & Design Facebook Page.