La Soiree isn’t your typical Broadway show, nor is it meant to be. It’s Cirque du Soleil meets burlesque set in the historic Union Square Theatre in Manhattan. As soon as you enter the building, you’re greeted by costumed hosts who’ll make sure you’re properly escorted to your seat with a bag of popcorn. There’s a bar inside the auditorium that’s stocked with beer and wine of which you can imbibe throughout the show. In fact, they encourage it!
La Soiree was created in Australia and continues to be performed in Sydney, as well as other cities throughout Europe. The acts change but always include a blend of cabaret, burlesque, circus sideshow and variety arts. You can select a ringside seat in a folding chair or farther up, where you can sit at a small table overlooking the circular stage where most of the action takes place. I say MOST, since many of the performers wander among the audience, often interacting with them.
While the entertainment includes acrobatics, juggling and other various stunts, La Soiree performers add a touch of humor to all they do, so while we’re oohing and aahing at the amazing feats of strength, we’re also laughing our socks off at their comedic flair. For instance there’s the bathtub acrobat, a handsome gent, who warns you ahead of time you’ll get a good soaking as he climbs out of the tub every so often and spins his drenched body in the air. Yes, they do provide a tarp for those in front!
I particularly enjoyed the Drama Queen who picks an innocent victim from the crowd and recreates, at least when we were there, a scene from West Side Story while the good natured audience member reads his lines from various parts of her body she cleverly displays up close and personal at the appropriate moment. Maybe it’s under her arm, in her belly button, on her ankle…you never know until she reveals it. It’s hilarious!
There are also beautifully crafted full size puppets, which interact with their handlers as they lip sync to jazz favorites. One was made of coils bedecked in a shimmering costume and was able to do amazing bumps and grinds thanks to the talents of her puppeteers!
One thing you’re not allowed to do at La Soiree is be silent. You’re encouraged to be as raucous as possible in keeping with the festivities.
While you’re rarely up close and personal with the performers at Cirque du Soleil, here you can see every muscle, sinew and fiber of these amazing stunt folk. Even the stripper is able to encapsulate herself in a huge balloon as she performs her routine. As you can tell, this circus is NOT for kids. It’s definitely risqué with nearly nude performers in front of and above you the entire evening. Yet the humor keeps it more amusing than titillating.
A giant blue bunny telling jokes while walking around in high heels seems silly on paper, but when incorporated in the evening’s entertainment, it’s thoroughly fun. We’ve seen jugglers juggling fire before, but when done while telling outlandish stories, your laughter will outweigh the usual gasps.
The circus music plays. The various costumed characters entertain, and we sit back and take it all in with unbounded delight!
Performances are Sunday, Monday and Thursday evenings with two performances on Fridays and Saturdays. Ticket prices vary depending on where you sit. The least expensive seats are $56 with posh table seats at $137.
Details and tickets are available through La Soiree.