by Blake Herzog
Iconic Canadian circus and entertainment producer Cirque du Soleil has created yet another eye-popping spectacle, and it’s coming to Prescott Valley’s Findlay Toyota Center March 19-21.
AXEL, described as an “electro-pop circus show on ice,” draws its energy from arena concerts, sports events, video games, manga, martial arts and other inspirations to create a distinct, immersive world for its audience.
Another Cirque du Soleil touring production, Saltimbanco, came to the arena for a stint back in 2008. AXEL cast member Karina Manta, who grew up in Arizona, said, “We know it’s been a few years since Cirque has come to Prescott, and we’re really excited to be back in the city with this new show. It’s a little different.”
AXEL fuses acrobatics to ice skating, live music and graphic arts, bringing multiple worlds to life through one young man’s imagination. The title character dives into a world of his own making, where he helps his beloved Lei and her crew try to keep the light of a powerful talisman from falling into the hands of supervillain Vi.
Manta said she and her ice dancing partner Joe Johnson, who competed with the Team USA championship team until last year, play members of the villain’s squad: “We get to be this really cool, evil snake team, so it’s a lot of fun,”
The show is threaded with original songs and cover versions performed by Axel and his band, while characters he created come to life in the performers’ stunts on and above the arena ice.
Images and animation are projected onto the ice as well as a series of slim, rectangular LED screens that form a giant pair of wings, intensifying the connection between music, visuals and performances.
Putting this show on requires a 89-member touring crew, which represents 20 nations. The 43 artists include 4 band members including a singer, 18 skaters and 23 acrobats. It takes 16 semis to transport AXEL’s equipment on its 40-city North American tour, which began in October.
AXEL is Cirque du Soleil’s 48th production since it began to redefine circuses with its focus on human acrobatics in the early 1980s and its second show on ice.
Tickets for the four Prescott Valley performances — at 7:30 p.m. March 19, 20 and 21, with an additional 4:30 p.m. show March 21 — are available at www.cirquedusoleil.com/axel. Prices start at $44 for adults (subject to change) with senior, military, student discounts and family 4-packs available.
Manta said, “I’ll be in Prescott on my birthday, so that will be a really special night.”