Paranormal Cirque Leaves A Lot To Be Desired

On paper, this sounds like a great idea. Take a traditional circus and give it an adults-only horror/haunted house spin. That’s the premise of Cirque Italia’s brand new show known as Paranormal Cirque which recently had its grand opening in Palmetto, Florida just outside of Tampa. Unfortunately, the production needs a lot of work and leaves a lot to be desired.

For example, a good idea on paper is to have audience members enter through a haunted house style experience before taking their seats. Indeed (spoiler alert), there are actors stationed in the holding area before you reach the main tent whose sole purpose is to scream at you or chase you with a chainsaw. Operationally, if your goal is to fill an auditorium quickly, this does nothing but gum up your seating process.

More importantly, the show doesn’t exactly gel together.  Admittedly, I saw Paranormal Cirque on the second weekend of its inaugural run and hopefully, there will be tweaks made along the way. On the plus side, most of the acts themselves were very talented. In particular, the opening act of scantily-clad buff zombie acrobat guys was one of the best variety acts I’ve seen anywhere. Their precision and timing were fantastic and really gave me hope for the rest of the show.

Unfortunately, Paranormal Cirque was all downhill after the first act.  This is not to say the show was a total failure. Far from it. There are some very talented performers in this cast, from aerialists to the spinning wheel act. On the flip side, there were also lots of technical glitches and oversights that need to be addressed. The sound system is absolutely horrible at times. There is a grim reaper character who comes out throughout the show and weaves some sort of narrative before or after most of the acts. Sadly, I, nor any of the audience members around me, could understand any of the pre-recorded audio. In addition, there were several moments where torches were to light several of the props on fire, only to find out the stagehands hadn’t doused the prop in any lighter fluid.

The main issue lies with the theme of the show. Just because you have a member of your cast who is a very talented plate spinner doesn’t mean it belongs in a horror-themed circus. Even if you do have skulls at the bottom of the spikes where the plates sit. At the end of the day, Paranormal Cirque is a series of circus acts strung together with spooky theming slapped on it. It comes across as cheap and uninspired.

When it comes down to it, most of the acts are still entertaining. The performers are talented, often in sexy costumes and when the acts stand on their own, the audience seems to love it. Aside from theming that seems to be shoehorned in, pacing stands out as a major problem with the show. The majority of it lies with Paranormal Cirque’s ringmaster/comic relief.

This gentleman appears throughout the show in various skits that either serve as the buffer while the next act is being set up in the arena or as their own standalone act. Either way, virtually every time this guy takes the stage, his act seems to drag on and on without reason. He seems to like milking the spotlight for very little payoff. More importantly, there is a scene where this guy (dress as a nun?) takes several audience members out on stage and “films” a soap opera scene with a busted up camcorder. Does it work? Nope. Is it funny? Nope. Does it have anything to do with a horror theme? Absolutely not. Yet it took up 20 minutes of a two-hour show. Unforgivable.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre and think Paranormal Cirque is a good way to fill that craving until Halloween rolls around, spend your money elsewhere. If you’re looking for fairly good variety acts that are woven together on a flimsy premise and you can sit through terrible comic relief? Then Paranormal Cirque might just be the show you’re looking for.

Images Copyright: Paranormal Cirque

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