We went to see Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo on Friday night on Randall’s Island. I was excited about the show, recalling the amazing Mystere I saw in Las Vegas years ago. With that performance venue in mind, I chose a very dressy outfit, dreaming of New York theater. When we arrived, however, I quickly felt ridiculous, since the show was in a big-top tent, and the theme of the show was much more casual than the Las Vegas event. There were a few others dressed up, but I pretty much wanted to crawl into a hole! 🙂

The show was very good, with lots of clowns and traditional circus acts. Not as sophisticated as Mystere, I think this show is more appropriate for kids. The music was in this casual style also, and did not leave too much of an impression on me.

But it was exciting nonetheless, and I would definitely return to see another Cirque du Soleil show in the future.

On Saturday, we returned to this famous city for another show, called Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Now, this show was pure magic. It touched every cell in my body, and was a satisfying total-sensory experience.

Jacques Brel was a famous Belgian songwriter in the 60’s, who died young of lung cancer. Guy had introduced his name and a few of his songs to me on his last trip to America, but at the time, I was only mildly impressed.

As we walked the city streets looking for the Zipper Theater, we found ourselves off the main drag of Broadway shows and theaters and in the so-called Fashion District of Manhattan. It didn’t seem too fashionable! When we finally arrived at the address, I was worried I had made a big mistake, buying these tickets to this obscure show in this frightening warehouse area of New York. But I saw other artsy-looking people arriving in middle-class clothes, and I thought I must not be too far off with this.

We walked into the building and went into the area of the show, which looked nothing like the typical theater box office I was used to. Around the corner, the lights were dim, and we found ourselves in a fantastic cabaret-style bar, with comfy couches and lounges of wonderful old fabrics all around the perimeter, with plenty of space to mill about inside. Different styles of colored lights hung from the ceiling, creating a very intimate and “cool” effect in the room.

Then came the most exciting moment – seeing the inside of the theater. Just off the bar was the entrance, with a sign urging us to take our drinks along with us inside. We did, and found a tiny room with a few small tables and a bunch of seats from old automobiles. It was dimly lit also, with a small stage which looked like part of the bar. The usher showed us to our seats in the fourth row – an bench seat taken from the back of some car from the past.

The crowd was varied in age, with many older folks, but everyone looked interested and soulful, not like your typical New York tourist who arrives from Kentucky with tickets to Cats in his hand, setting foot in a theater for the first and last time in his life.

Guy whispered to me as the show began that he was happy I would get to hear this music in English – that it really represented the heart and soul of his Belgian culture that he loves so much.

In this intimate setting, I saw a show which moved me like no other.

With only 4 main singers and a small group of musicians, they began to sing the songs of Jacques Brel. Songs of love and of war and of death… funny songs, sad songs… songs that drew me in and took me to Belgium to listen to these beautiful stories. The voices were superb. Really. After the first act, I wondered how they could possibly top what they had just done, but the second act was off-the-charts. I was moved to tears for most of it.

I’m still “feeling” this show, days later, and I can’t wait to go to see it again.

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