Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

January 14, 2023

REVIEW: Cirque d'Soleil, "Corteo"

The DCU Center, Worcester, MA
through January 15, 2023
by Jarice Hanson

Cirque d’Soleil is an entertainment phenomenon in its own right. in the current show, “Corteo,” playing at the DCU Center in Worcester, audiences are treated to an immaculately choreographed combination of physical feats, music, lighting and mesmerizing acts that awaken senses and allow for a two-hour escape from the world outside. At the DCU Center, the stage is placed in the center of the arena, with audience members seated on two sides of the playing stage, simulating the experience of a center ring of a circus. 

Though Cirque d’Soleil represents traditions representative of the European circus, don’t expect a “traditional” circus experience. Every show in the Cirque repertoire tells a story. In “Corteo,” a former clown dies, but ascends to heaven with the aid of angels who guide him to his rest. The word, “corteo” references a funeral cortege—but this is anything but a sad parade. The show’s acts represent fun, friendship, human frailties, and even a little romance.   

The story loosely holds the show together and propels the action from one act to another, with multi-talented troupe members working in ensemble, solo, and duets to entertain every generation represented in the audience.

"Corteo” features Italian songs and music, beautifully and skillfully provided by cast members. Audiences will have no problem shifting their ears from Italian to English.  The performers are artists of the physical, and while older audience members may marvel at the artists’ sculpted bodies and total commitment to their art, children will undoubtedly find themselves enveloped in a fantasy that allows their minds to imagine escaping gravity. 

In addition to the mastery demonstrated by the performers, “Corteo” allows the riggers and roustabouts to take their own bow—as well they should.  

What becomes obvious as the show progresses, is that something interesting happens in the audience. The retiree seated next to me quietly gasped in some of the more death-defying moments, and an eight-year-old girl seated with her mother cheered the acts and held on to her mother in moments of wonder. When asked, at the end of the show, what her favorite part was, she didn’t pause to think. She blurted out “the robots!" I chuckled when I realized that though the show allows for a collective experience, every person seated could find a different “favorite moment.”  

For two hours, the audience at the DCU Center became a community. “Corteo” is first-rate entertainment that could only be successful when viewed live, and Cirque d’Soleil is a welcomed addition to live family entertainment.