Was it really necessary for Cirque du Soleil, the undisputed champion of Las Vegas spectacle, to try conquering Broadway too? And if so, couldn’t the company have come up with something better than “Paramour,” a middling, mindless diversion that awkwardly combines circus feats with elements of traditional musical theater?
Back in 2010, Cirque tried something similar with the disastrous and widely panned “Banana Shpeel.” By comparison, “Paramour” is merely flavorless and lacking in the mystique and visual opulence that characterize Cirque’s most celebrated shows.
A sort of rehash of “42nd Street” set in Golden Age Hollywood, “Paramour” revolves around an ego-driven movie director (rock musical veteran Jeremy Kushnier) who tries to build up a young beauty (the attractive but blank Ruby Lewis) as his newest star, and then romantic complications get in the way.
Cheesy dialogue and forgettable new songs are thrown in, but the storyline is meant primarily as a framework for setting up the various circus acts, which range from acrobatics to clowning. They aggressively try to fill every moment with movement, digital projections and flash, so much so that the stage is often overcrowded, cluttered and full of chaos.
“Paramour” pales in comparison to other circus attractions since it is being staged in a proscenium theater instead of an arena, leaving a considerable distance between spectator and spectacle. The performers utilize the entire theater space only on occasion, such as when a pair of aerialists glide over the front rows.
All things considered, “Paramour” is a lame, harmless alternative for international tourists who want to see a Broadway show but would prefer something with the Cirque du Soleil imprimatur than a long-running hit like “Chicago,” “The Lion King” or “The Phantom of the Opera.” Frankly, I think they can do better.