Sangrit Malay

About Sangrit Malay

Sangrit loves working in New York City, he often writes advice columns on what to do for fun here. He is a frequent Broadway attendee and loves to write mostly about the intersection between art and commerce Favorite TV Talk Show: Late Night with Conan O'Brien

‘America’s Got Talent’ Faces Tough Time Filling Seats In NYC

For the May 2014 taping of season 9 of the NBC behemoth TV show, America’s Got Talent (AGT), Mariah Carey’s hubby, Nick Cannon and the various judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B are certainly a big draw for audiences to see the show in NYC, but producers have created confusion in the choice of varied tape dates and locations for the taping’s, leading to a shortage of audience members.

For what’s billed as “Judgment Week “, normally the AGT show would be sold out, but right now there are many empty seats to be had over the next few days and many “priority seating” options are left empty, which is quite rare. The timings of the taping’s are also pretty awful with two taping’s a day at 9 AM and 2:15 PM maintaining a rigorous and demanding taping schedule. Many New Yorker’s just aren’t getting up for this. It is expected that in order to keep the morning audience there for the afternoon that they will feed them lunch as a bribe, a classic Hollywood trick.

The latest taping location is at Pier 92/94 on the West Side Highway, which is normally a  trade show and special event venue that houses the Westminster dog show and various other corporate trade shows. It’s weird to see AGT relegated to such a meager environment, especially given the high quality of the previous taping locations . Pier 92/94 bills itself in the “heart of midtown”, but in reality it is located on the outskirts of Midtown Manhattan at 55th Street and the West Side Highway, with no subway and little public transportation going there, that doesn’t help audience members who want to see the show, and have to battle rush-hour traffic to get there. No doubt the celebrities on the show, will be able to use Howard Stern’s “Ronnie Mund” AKA ” Ronnie the limo driver” to take them out there, in the quiet comfort of his customized Audi A8 complete with a working AC petcock.

AGT americas got talent show datesIt’s widely know that the reason AGT is shot in NYC is due to Howard Stern’s demanding schedule with The Howard Stern Show at Sirius XM radio so it remains to be seen if this format of moving around NYC in search of shooting locations will work over time or Howard will get bored and move onto new TV projects. It seems like just only a few moments ago the show was stationed in the theater at Madison Square Garden and before that it was at the Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark NJ. It is not clear where the live shows will be taped in the summer of 2014, but given the constant go-around NYC, it could be pretty much anywhere in the tri-state area.

What also doesn’t help is that the show isn’t on our TV screens right now, so there is little interest in the public minds – out of sight, out of mind. All the footage from these current shows is recorded and then edited down to the bare minimum, so the feel of this kind of show is labored and somewhat less compelling than a “Live” show, where it seems like anything could happen. Audiences in Hollywood would often be paid to attend these kinds of shows, but the New York ones have to be run more cheaply as the cost of shooting these shows in NYC is about double the Californian rate. The taped show also take a lot longer to shoot, often two and a half hours, with re-shoots and lighting adjustments galore,  which makes the audience restless and often bored. So bored  in fact that they don’t come back, especially given the amount of boos that Nick Cannon received recently at Madison Square Garden, when he came to see the NY Knicks play. His AGT TV producers thought it would be a great idea to shoot an AGT promo at the game and for him to appear on the MSG Jumbotron and then do a trick shot (Throwing the ball behind his head, while someone else throws a ball into the basket) His appearance on the Jumbotron was met with loud crowd boos and then his failed trick shot added to the crowd torment and they started getting mean. After a 2nd, but successful, attempt Nick Cannon finally sat down and then left the stadium just ten minutes later as he appears to have little interest in the Knicks. New Yorker’s generally do not like Nick Cannon and clearly Knicks fans positively dislike him, and now he knows it  if he didn’t know already. NBC’s AGT producers are well known producers of “fakeality” TV Shows and are to expected to still use the negative footage recorded at MSG, remove the loud boos, overdub the audio and edit out the fans rude hand gestures and make it appear that Mr Cannon was in fact the darling of The Garden.

We look forward to see the live shows of AGT come back to NYC in July and it will be interesting to see if the public interest in seeing this show returns, but given the current nomadic spin on shooting locations, the show could end up in Danbury, Connecticut. The home of all the other NBC universal shows. If only Howard Stern would agree to the move.

For your information, the official address of this shooting location at Pier 92/94 is 711 12th Avenue, New York, NY 10019.

Newsies Still Packs Them In, a Year After Jeremy Jordan Departed

Newsies Broadway Musical

Newsies Broadway Musical

Encouraged by the New York newsboy strike of 1899, Disney’s cathartic production of Newsies the Musical first premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in the fall of 2011, quickly moving on to the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway in the spring of 2012.  Whether it is because the show has been running on Broadway for an extensive period of time or the show wrestles without an attention reeling name like Jeremy Jordan, this Disney musical has not been living up to its full potential this year, compared to the last. (Jeremy Jordan left Newsies on Sept 4 2012 to pursue his dream of TV fame in the musical drama TV series Smash which aired on NBC and ended its 2nd, and final, season on May 26, 2013)

When Newsies first opened on Broadway in the March of 2012, they were averaging 100.8% in ticket sales and were grossing an average of $937,788.92, in comparison to January of 2013. Up until now they have been averaging 95.6% in ticket sales and are grossing an average of $847,072.23, with a 97% of theatre seats sold on average every night.  Looking at this data, there was not a colossal loss, possibly because in the beginnings of this production, people were so anxious about this musical being an adaptation to the popular 1992 film, starring Christian Bale. Compared to the movie, the musical is much longer and more care and precision have been placed into it.

Recasting has always been a difficult task to execute and even though the show has fared critically in monetary terms, Jeremy Jordan’s replacement, Corey Cott, has been fairly up to par. The emotional build up for every number is not nearly as tantamount to what Jeremy set the standards for, but Corey manages to pull off an astounding performance with a voice similar to Jeremy’s, making up for many of the weak moments to the female lead’s, Kara Lindsay’s, singing. Albeit the humorous, witty journalistic jokes and snappy, energetic attitude, Kara lacks this sort of resilience and strength, for the most part; coming off seemingly reserved and as if she is holding herself back, teetering along the lines of the melody and not quite hitting all of her notes. (Maybe this is due to the exhausting eight-shows-a-week schedule.)

Aside from the exciting dance numbers and character developments, there is exceptional use of the limited space on stage. The construction of the set, along with the essence of New York, is captured quite perfectly. A gate at the top of each moving staircase so that they can connect or detach from each other exacerbates the excitement of the chase-run scenes. The backdrop is tastefully modern, displaying shifting scenery or showing words from a typewriter whenever Kara’s character speaks what she is so furiously typing. Any seat in the house could clearly see what was going on, although being in the front few aisles definitely opens up your eyes to the deliberate sweat dripping and spit flying everywhere.

Even though Disney’s target market is for families of all ages, female fans of the Christian Bale movie of the same name, the audience demographic at this show seems to skew to an older, more mature crowd who may find solace in this hopeful musical because of the very pertinent modern day financial and social struggles.

With tattered corduroys and newsboy cap wearing orphan boys selling newspapers, desperate to make a living out on the cutthroat streets of New York, Newsies pulls at the heartstrings, bringing to mind the toil of making a living on Broadway, or simply the everyday strife that everybody trudges through. With no foul language or anything particularly scandalous to worry about, overall, this show is quite uplifting, entertaining, and sublime for families.

Henry Winkler and Cheyenne Jackson in “The Performers” – Broadway Show Review

Henry Winkler, Alicia Silverstone, Cheyenne Jackson, Daniel Breaker, Ari Graynor and Jenni Barber in the Performers on Broadway

The Performers on Broadway – Sara Krulwich

If you anticipate that Henry Winkler’s “Fonz” from Happy Days and Alicia Silverstone’s “Cher” from Clueless will turn up onstage at the Longacre Theatre for the Broadway production of The Performers, you may be disappointed.  But who does turn up are a wonderful ensemble of actors performing a funny yet poignant romantic comedy about two couples from very different backgrounds, both with relationship problems, thrust together against the unique backdrop of the Adult Film Awards in a Las Vegas hotel.

Cheyenne Jackson plays successful porn star Mandrew, who loves his work and is hoping to win this year’s coveted adult film award for best actor. He is married to a porn actress, Peeps, played by Ari Graynor, who is a needy, simple-minded, but lovable companion in dire need of a life rudder, which Jackson provides perfectly. Alicia Silverstone plays Sara, a plain schoolteacher who has lost her passion for her fiance Lee (Daniel Breaker), the only person she has ever slept with. Added into the mix is Winkler as Chuck Wood, Mandrew’s porn star adversary (who is also up for the same award), and porn actress Sundown LeMay, played by Jenni Barber, who manages to create amusing havoc along the way.

Although Mandrew anticipates winning a number of honors at the Adult Film Awards, the gods may have other plans for him as he circumnavigates his relationship with Peeps, tries to recapture his friendship with his high school friends Sara and Lee (who happen to be in town to write a piece about him for the New York Post), and attempts to defeat the aging Chuck Wood for the most coveted award.

With David West Read’s writing and Evan Cabnet’s direction, this hilarious play takes us on a comedic trip through the trials and tribulations of an adult film couple’s relationship when it crashes into a couple at the other end of the sexual spectrum. The comedy reminds us that adult film stars are not that different from the rest of us after all, albeit with their preference for close-up bukake action face shots.

Cheyenne Jackson provides an amazing performance and captures a handsome but dimwitted Adonis working in a industry that he loves. When out of his element, Mandrew becomes confused and often draws on his only frame of reference, the porn industry, delivering hysterically funny responses with perfect timing. Jackson’s performance is an ideal balance of funny and touching. Opposite Jackson, Ari Graynor plays a very similar character to the one she recently played in her movie For a Good Time, Call…  She delivers a sound performance as Peeps in this show, but it remains to be seen if she has the acting chops for anything outside the ditzy, confused simpleton. There were signs of hope when her character began to develop beyond the two-dimensional, but it appears that Cabnet’s direction may have stopped her character development in its tracks.

Silverstone’s whiny Clueless line delivery does creep into a few scenes as she fleshes out the plain, sexually bored teacher opposite Daniel Breaker’s Lee.  The infamous Howard Stern has often been quoted as saying that, “Actors who can only shine as retarded or drunk characters aren’t often strong enough actors to capture the nuances of real, more subtle, less caricature characters.”  This may be true of Silverstone’s performance. The only time in this show where Silverstone really only comes into her own is when she is playing the falling down drunk version of Sara and yells at Chuck Wood to “Get me a coffee, bitch!”

Daniel Breaker does, however, shine as the hapless reporter trying to keep his marriage together during a difficult, often turbulent time. His portrayal of Lee is developed perfectly as his character becomes better educated in the world of sex, something that Lee is clearly unfamiliar with and demonstrates to great comedic effect.

It appears that playwright David West Read hasn’t seen too many porn movies, nor actually met any porn actors, because his caricature of the talent is so far off the mark. With an “everyone in the industry is a moron” approach, it’s more pandering than a gross mis-characterization, but often straying into extreme stereotypes that don’t add any funny to the scenes and with so many missed opportunities. The show’s dialogue may give some insight into Read’s exposure to porn when Sara indicates that she knows about the porn industry from reading a paper during her work on her master’s degree. Methinks that David West Read is referring to himself.

Jenni Barber’s stage talent is virtually untapped in this show, with her portrayal of a one-dimensional dumb blonde porn actress, the epitome of the Hollywood bimbo. One key final scene with Winkler is squandered to tepid sexual humor, when Read could have written just one line, just one line in the whole show, that would have established that, maybe, Sundown LeMay was the genius and we were the bimbos.

The small disappointment in The Performers is Winkler as Chuck Wood. It appears that Winkler, a veritable national treasure, can only play two characters: The Fonz and Henry Winkler. It is Henry Winkler who shows up for this show, and although it is a great honor to be in his presence, he fails to bring any depth to Chuck Wood, an over-the-hill porn star who knows that his career is over and his demise is near, but cannot quite quit before he crashes into the wall, because porn is all he has. Winkler has some great opportunities with his scenes and delivers on a key monologue that contains heart and humor, but his performance overall ultimately falls flat as does his interaction with the other actors.

The Performers is a funny romantic comedy farce, with lots of heart, but ultimately a little disappointing. We anticipate it may go straight-to-video — right after the money shot.

Grace Broadway Show Review

Grace

Though Craig Wright’s Grace has already been seen in a few theaters around the country, it is just now making its Broadway debut at the Cort Theatre.  The play has a small but impressive cast, headed by film star Paul Rudd and TV legend Ed Asner (who makes a big impression with a relatively small role), along with indie film and TV actor Michael Shannon and Kate Arrington.  The quartet are uniformly excellent as they explore the relationships of Wright’s complex characters.

The actual plot of Grace may sound a bit off-beat (and it is).  It concerns a couple from Minnesota who leave their evangelical church community in St. Paul and move to Florida with the hopes of establishing a Gospel-themed hotel there.  Their lives become entwined with that of their neighbor, a reclusive astrophysicist who is recovering from a car accident that has disfigured him and left his fiancee dead.  Ed Asner plays a German-born exterminator who periodically comes to spray their homes for pests.

From the opening scene–which, intriguingly, plays out backwards–we see that Grace has serious undertones.  It addresses themes of redemption, predetermination, faith, loyalty, love, and what our place is in this world.  But it’s also very funny and well-observed, and seeing the culture clash between the well-meaning Christian Minnesotans and their new Florida friends is enjoyable.

Each of the four characters seem pretty set in their view of life at the beginning of the play, none more so than Rudd’s, whose initially certain faith sends him into a tailspin as soon as it is challenged by major setbacks in his marriage and work.  But the other characters too have emotional and spiritual experiences–subtly and convincingly rendered by the playwright–that leave them changed before the play’s dramatic conclusion.

Grace is a thought-provoking if brief (the running time is only 90 minutes) evening at the theater, and well worth seeing during its limited engagement, scheduled through January 6.

Chaplin Broadway Show Review

Rob McClure as Charlie Chaplin

The life and career of silent film star Charlie Chaplin hits the stage with the new musical Chaplin, now playing at the Barrymore Theatre.  For those unfamiliar with the man behind the funny little mustache, Chaplin offers an interesting biographical sketch that touches on his vaudeville days in London, his massive Hollywood success, and the controversial turn to politics that led to career-ending charges of communism.

Unfortunately Chaplin doesn’t rise above the level of a sketch often enough.  A scene that depicts young Charlie’s first attempt to act on film, and a sequence that shows how Charlie and his business manager brother Sydney (Wayne Alan Wilcox) make him one of the richest men in the movies are great glimpses into the goings-on of early Hollywood.  But other things are glossed over, as the show depicts his rise to stardom as being lightning fast, and then breezes through his many marriages and declines to explore his apparent attraction to very young women (two of his wives were only teenagers when he married them).  A gossip columnist’s obsession with outing Chaplin as a communist comes off as an over-simplification of a much more intriguing aspect of his life.

But Chaplin does still have a lot going for it.  The show is well directed by Warren Carlyle, and features a fairly simple but attractive and effective set design by Beowulf Boritt.  The costuming, which sticks to shades of black, white, and gray throughout most of the show, creates a sense of period, evoking the old days of black and white movies.  Film footage is also nicely integrated into the show at key points, helping to remind us of Charlie Chaplin’s brilliance on screen.

Chaplin‘s score (written by Christopher Curtis) is not especially memorable, but it works well in the context of the show.  And, unlike many musicals, Chaplin isn’t unnecessarily over-stuffed with songs.

But this musical’s greatest asset is certainly the actor playing Charlie Chaplin, Rob McClure.  In a star-making performance, McClure offers a fully-formed character, showing us a naive young showman as he grows into a true artist, one who wrestles with his own massive ego and eventually with the frustration of feeling forgotten.  It’s amazing how effortlessly McClure transforms from Chaplin the man into the “Little Tramp” character that defined him on the silver screen.  It’s a wonderful performance and helps to make Chaplin well worth seeing on stage, despite its flaws.

Going Into the Woods in Central Park

Into the Woods (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Into the Woods, which premiered on Broadway in 1987 and was revived on Broadway in 2002, is now going into its last week of a popular run at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.  Part of the Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare in the Park series, Into the Woods is of course not Shakespeare.  But the Public has been known to sneak a contemporary musical into its summer season every now and then, often with great results (the Shakespeare in the Park production of Hair a few years back transferred to Broadway for a respectable run).

With a score by revered composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods has carried more buzz than any Shakespeare in the Park production in recent years.  It doesn’t hurt that Oscar-nominated film actress Amy Adams (Enchanted, Julie & Julia, Doubt) is co-starring.  She plays the role of the Baker’s Wife, one half of a childless couple who must collect a series of objects in order to reverse a Witch’s curse.  They interact with numerous characters from legend in this fairy tale mash-up that features beloved characters like Cinderella, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Little Red Ridinghood, and the Big Bad Wolf.  The big twist in Into the Woods is that, after bringing us to a happy conclusion at the end of the first act, the musical becomes quite dark in the second act as it explores the consequences of the actions each character took to achieve a “happy ending”.

This production, based on an outdoor English production from a couple years ago, is very good overall.  The set design, coupled with the naturally picturesque Central Park location, makes for an enchanting background for the musical.  A new frame story, which has a young boy serving as narrator, is a nice touch that reminds us of the power that fairy tales hold, especially for the young.

Chip Zien and Denis O’Hare (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The cast is uniformly good, with stand-outs being Jessie Mueller as Cinderella and Sarah Stiles as a hilarious Little Red.  Denis O’Hare is solid in the crucial role of the Baker, though his singing is unfortunately lacking, notably in the beautiful second-act ballad “No One Is Alone”.

A particular treat for longtime Sondheim fans is the presence of Chip Zien in the role of the Mysterious Man, who takes part in the moving duet “No More” with the Baker.  In the original Broadway production of Into the Woods, Zien played the Baker, so it is a joy to see him “graduating” to the Mysterious Man, a role that he plays with great humor and pathos.  Sondheim fans can also appreciate seeing Broadway stalwart Donna Murphy (who first made her mark in the original Broadway production of the Sondheim-scored musical Passion) in the role of the Witch, one of the musical’s most showy parts, which she plays with relish.

Due to Into the Woods‘s immense popularity, the Public Theater has already extended the run until September 1, which means you still have a week to catch it.  Tickets are absolutely free, and they are handed out at 1pm on performance days.  People have been lining up very early for this production, and we have heard that, in general, you need to arrive at Central Park before 6 or 7am if you want to actually get tickets.

There is also an online lottery that opens up each night at midnight, but, as with any lottery, there are always many more losers than winners.  Another option is to join the standby line, which generally starts forming immediately after the tickets have been handed out at 1pm.  There is no way to guarantee that you will get in via standby, but for the best chance of securing tickets that way, we would recommend arriving by 4pm.

For more information on Shakespeare in the Park, visit shakespeareinthepark.org.

Last Chance! Tony Award Winning Broadway Shows To See Before They Close In Coming Weeks

As the 2012-2013 season gets in gear, several currently running Broadway musicals and plays are readying to close to make way for the new crop.  Here are four that you should see while you still have the chance.

Sister Act (closing August 26) – Raven-Symone (The Cosby Show) is currently starring in this stage version of the popular Whoopi Goldberg movie about a club singer who disguises herself as a nun after witnessing a murder.  One of the best of Broadway’s fluffy musicals, Sister Act is full of funny characters and toe-tapping ’70s soul numbers courtesy of composer Alan Menken.

One Man, Two Guvnors (closing September 2) – This British import has had Broadway audiences rolling in the aisles all summer.  A manic farce set in the 1960s, One Man, Two Guvnors includes wild slapstick, hilarious gags involving the audience, and musical interludes featuring a fantastic band playing original rock ‘n’ roll tunes reminscent of the play’s time period.

The Best Man Starring Candice Bergen Kerry Butler James Earl Jones Angela Lansbury Johm Larroquette Jefferson Mays Eric McCormackThe Best Man (closing September 9) – Timely for a presidential election year, this 1960 comedy by the late Gore Vidal stands up surprisingly well over 50 years after it was written.  The play itself is admittedly good, not great, but its starry cast makes it worth a visit.  James Earl Jones is giving the production’s most enjoyable performance as a former president, and his impressive list of co-stars includes John Stamos, Elizabeth Ashley, Cybill Shepherd, John Larroquette, and Kristin Davis.

Porgy and Bess (closing September 23) – Though controversial in theatrical circles because of the many changes made from the original version, this Broadway production of the Gershwin folk opera has been largely well-received by audiences and with good reason.  A powerful story, strong performances (Norm Lewis and multiple Tony winner Audra McDonald play the leads), and unforgettable music make this a great evening in the theater.

Bring It On: The Musical Broadway Show Review

Bring It On

Bring It On, now playing at the St. James Theatre, didn’t come to Broadway with much fanfare.  Loosely based on the 2000 movie of the same name, Bring It On: The Musical began by playing touring engagements on the road, then sneaked onto Broadway in the middle of the summer (usually a dead time for Broadway), scheduled for only a limited engagement.  Given its somewhat sheepish approach onto Broadway, most people didn’t expect much for this competitive cheerleading-themed musical.  However, Bring It On has managed to be a pleasant surprise, kicking off the 2012-2013 Broadway season with flair.

The thing that first catches your eye in Bring It On: The Musical is the acrobatics.  Many real-life competitive cheerleaders are in the show’s cast, and they pull off some incredible moves onstage, flipping, somersaulting, and being flung far up into the air.  Bring It On has more going for it, though, than the “special effects” provided by these talented young people.  It also has a smart, silly, and often hilarious book by Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), who creates a cast of well-drawn characters that each have their individual quirks (kudos also to the youthful cast, who bring these colorful characters to life).

One of Bring It On‘s innovations is employing two songwriting teams.  The show centers on two very different high schools that ultimately compete against each other, so it seems appropriate to have multiple songwriters.  In the Heights‘ Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with Tom Kitt (Next To Normal) and Amanda Green, provide the songs, utilizing very different styles to highlight the differences between the worlds of these two schools.  A few songs are a bit bland, but on the whole it is a strong score.  (The incredibly catchy number “Do Your Own Thing” deserves to be a Top 40 radio hit right now.)

Originally scheduled to play into October, enthusiastic audience reaction and ticket sales has already encouraged Bring It On: The Musical to extend through January 20, so you have plenty of time to catch this high-flying cheerleading crowd-pleaser.

New Hot Spot for Broadway Talent: 54 Below

It hasn’t been open long, but 54 Below has already become a second home to Broadway stars.  You could call it a nightclub, a supper club, a cabaret, or even “Broadway’s living room” (to borrow the venue’s own phrase), but whatever you call it, 54 Below is attracting top names from the New York theater scene.  Ben Vereen (Jesus Christ Superstar), Victor Garber (Sweeney Todd), Faith Prince (Guys & Dolls), Norbert Leo Butz (Catch Me If You Can), Jackie Hoffman (The Addams Family), Andrea McArdle (Annie), Michael Arden (Big River), and Rebecca Luker (Mary Poppins) are among the many respected Broadway performers who are performing there this summer.

Located at the uppermost part of the theater district, on West 54th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Ave.), 54 Below also offers fine dining in the form of small plates, usually featuring seasonal ingredients, and classic cocktails.  Needless to say, though, most people will be going there for the music and a chance to see favorite performers in a more casual setting.  The many 7 and 8pm show times conflict with Broadway show schedules, but there are also often 11pm sets for people who want to take in both a play and an evening at the cabaret.

The truth is that many promising cabaret venues have come and gone in New York City, so it’s hard to say which ones will survive.  But 54 Below has a better shot than most given its prime location.

Cirque du Soleil: Zarkana Review

Cirque du Soleils Zarkana

Zark from Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana ringleads an impressive troupe in this year’s show at the Radio City Music Hall

The golden glow of the walls and the oddly dressed performers walking the aisles set the stage for this year’s incarnation of Zarkana, the latest spectacular by Cirque du Soleil that runs through September 2, at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

The show tells the story of Zark, a magician who has lost his powers, on his quest to rescue his love who was kidnapped. The plot, although confusing, was secondary — after all who doesn’t love a good Cirque du Soleil show strung together on a flimsy premise?

As for action, Zarkana doesn’t disappoint. The opening act features an impressive juggler and although she didn’t miss a beat, the onslaught of performers around her, was quite a distraction from her art.  The Trapeze and Acrobatics were sensational, and sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.  The Cyr Wheel and High Wire acts, although exciting, felt a little too circus-like. The Flag Throwers fell flat, hardly perilous enough to compete with the other death-defying feats followed by the Hand Balancing performer who will not only have you gasping, but will inspire you to run to a local yoga class.

The Sand Painting was by far, one of the highlights of the evening.  The magical ability to highlight every segment of the show using only hands and sand could easily leave you feeling mesmerized.  The Wheel of Death was the show stopper — with the huge cage-like cylinders rotating while two daring performers leapt inside and out, flipping and jumping — was nerve wracking. In an apparent misstep, when the performer’s leg became stuck in the jump rope as the wheel rotated at lightning fast speed, it appeared that near disaster was averted — or maybe it was part of the act.  Either way, it made for a nail biting experience.

As for the creepy factor, the six-armed floating fetus, the “Freddy Krueger meets Little Mermaid’s Ursula” Snake Lady, and eyeball projections will have you and that five-year old having nightmares for weeks.

The stage sets and elaborate costumes made you feel instantly transformed into an odd enchanted world. For a show that is supposedly a rock opera, the music is unimpressive, actually distracting to a point.   It was hard to make out what the singers were saying, even though it was in English versus Cirque’s typical Esperanto.

This is an entertaining show filled with phenomenal talent. Even with the many distractions, Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana, is a must see — but leave the timid toddlers at home.

If you can’t catch Zarkana‘s swan song in the New York show, don’t worry — beginning this fall, Zarkana will make its permanent home at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.