Cirque du Soleil brings its newest show to Western Washington on Thursday when it opens “Amaluna” at Marymoor Park in Redmond. The estrogen-fueled story is a retelling of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” – Cirque style.
French-Canadian performer Marie-Michelle Faber plays the Moon Goddess in the show, the latest of Cirque’s 19 shows in production around the world. The News Tribune caught up with Faber during the final week of the show’s latest stop in Vancouver, B.C.
Q: Amaluna’s story takes place on an island ruled by a woman named Prospera who has a daughter named Miranda who gets wooed by a sexy dude named Romeo. Why not just call this Cirque du Shakespeare?
A: Because (director) Diane Paulus decided to have an inspiration on Shakespeare but not to recreate it. She took some characters (from “The Tempest”) so that the people can relate to a story that they may know. We’re still a circus, not a theater.
Q: Tell me about your character, the Moon Goddess.
A: I’m there as a godmother of Miranda. I protect her. I give her my crystal ball that represents the moon, and it gives her strength.
Q: I’m sensing this show has a lot of female energy. Is it an empowering story for women?
A: We are almost 80 percent women. It was (Cirque founder) Guy Laliberte’s wishes to do a female show. But we can’t do a 100 percent female show. We need the guys. (The men) have great acts in the show.
Q: Will men feel comfortable watching this? It’s not a Cirque version of “Thelma and Louise” is it?
A: It’s not a feminist show. We show different strengths of women: the fragility, the beauty. Women will like it, too. There’s this guy who does a pole act and when he takes his shirt off, the girls go “woooooooooo!”
Q: What sort of skills and talents does your role require?
A: My act is a vocal aerial hoop. I sing while doing contortions and acrobatic skills in the air. It’s tremendously demanding on my cardio and on the control of my breath. I have to be able to synchronize my movement and where I use my strength.
Q: Have you performed in other Cirque productions?
A: I started in 1998 on “Quidam.” I was on that for five years total. Then I went on “Corteo” for seven years. I did three different jobs. I worked on a huge (flying) chandelier. I was the singer on that show with a partner. That’s where I first merged aerial and singing in the air. That’s what brought me on this production.
Q: Cirque shows are like “Law and Order” spin-offs. They just never stop coming. What is the draw that keeps packing in audiences?
A: It’s a hard question. I’m so immersed in it, it’s hard to put myself in the audience, but I’m so happy that they are present for us. ... Maybe it’s because we give so much.
Q: Do you have to be in top shape to be in a Cirque show?
A: I’m 34 now and I have to give more attention to my body. When I was younger, I didn’t warm up as much. The show was enough. I still don’t do a huge physical preparation. I warm up with yoga and pilates.
Q: I can’t do yoga without crying and I have a substance abuse problem with Trader Joe’s ginger cookies. I wouldn’t make the callback list for Cirque, would I?
A: It depends. If you fit the profile for a job they are looking for, then you are in.
Q: I see. Are you auditioning for old fat guys?
Q: What is life like when you are not on stage? You don’t walk around Vancouver juggling and dressed like peacocks do you?
We are just regular people. Here in Vancouver, there’s this bar where a lot of (the cast) hangs out. They’ve become the regulars. In my free time, I’m starting a yoga studio in my hometown, Quebec City.
Q: Cirque performers are very anonymous, but do you have fans and groupies?
A: I do have fans from all over: Japan, Russia, the States, Canada. They find me on the Internet and Facebook. ... (incredulously) Me?
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL’S ‘Amaluna’
When: Jan. 31-March 24
Where: Marymoor Park, Redmond
Tickets: $43.50-$263.50 for adults
Information: cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows /amalunaCraig Sailor: 253-597-8541 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/getout