Saturday, 11 February 2012

Zaia Bows Out

Zaia ends its run at The Venetian Macau on February 19
Most of Cirque du Soleil's shows have been a hit, but there are a few expensive losses, such as Banana Shpeel that lasted less than a year, and Viva Elvis at Aria in Las Vegas.

The next casualty will be Zaia at The Venetian Macau which closes in February 19.

The show has had a three-year run and revamped the new show in September, but it already had poor reviews from the public and word of mouth spread that they should see The House of Dancing Water instead of the Cirque du Soleil production.

When I first heard the criticisms, I wondered if people were being too harsh saying Cirque was "too arrogant" in assuming it would be an instant success and putting in many acrobatic acts that mainland Chinese are already very familiar with, such as dancing lions.

I had friends visiting Macau this weekend so at first I suggested watching The House of Dancing Water. But when the next available tickets were on February 17, our only choice was Zaia. The cheap tickets were HK$388 ($48.57), and were all sold out, so we got seats in the next price point at HK$588, which were close to the best seats in the house at HK$788. You could pay even more for VIP seats at HK$1,288 which were only three rows in the 1,800-seat theatre.

So it was strange to enter the theatre and see the vast majority of the best seats, the entire centre section -- was empty -- and most of the back was filled.

But as the old saying goes, "the show must go on", it did.

The opening number in the show featuring upside down bikes
And now I can see why the show played to poor reviews. It wasn't that the storyline of the girl Zaia didn't make much sense, but there were design elements such as polar bears, ice, and people snow shoeing that were more an homage to Canada and didn't have any relation to the Chinese.

The individual acts for the most part were very impressive -- a couple on roller skates where the man skated in a small circle while holding his partner in very difficult moves. Another had a very flexible ballet dancer and her partner holding her in seductive but also amazing poses.

But then there were some routines that seemed mediocre for Cirque du Soleil -- a man flying in the air holding onto two straps was physically difficult, don't get me wrong, but it didn't go one step further. The same goes for the final act with many people jumping around on trampolines and catapults, and the trapeze artists. Their routines were technically good, but very familiar.

We liked the jugglers who used glow-in-the-dark clubs, but it wasn't different, though the fire juggling routine added a bit of excitement.

The aforementioned lion dance was nothing too unusual from the typical routines these Chinese acrobats can do, so while they were cute and more lively than the ones found on the mainland, they didn't add more to the show.

After Zaia ended, we were drawn to the gift shop where everything was 70 percent off. It was sad seeing so much merchandise still for sale and only one more week left to go.

What will happen next is anyone's guess, but perhaps another show is in the planning stages. It will have to be utterly jaw dropping in order to top The House of Dancing Water, which will probably enjoy monopolizing Macau's entertainment scene for a while.

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