Cavalia: an equestrian fantasy created by Normand Latourelle. Presented by Voltige at the Distillery District Big Top (55 Mill). Runs to November 2, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2 pm. $36-$88. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It's hard to know who the tar- get audience is for Cavalia , the horse extravaganza currently taking up an entire block over at the Distillery District. Farmers? Westerners? Pubescent girls? It doesn't matter. Creator Norman Latourelle , one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil, has made a show that's every bit as pretentious and entertaining as his Cirque opuses, with the added attraction that his four-legged performers occasionally drop a load on the stage.
The pretention comes via quotes from the Bible and Shakespeare, and well-designed screens that attempt to put what we're seeing into a pseudo socio-historical context.
Post-Roy, there's a built-in tension in watching a show where 33 horses trample around various two-legged trainers and acrobats who look like Hercules and Xena extras. But the hoofed performers are well trained. They trot in unison, get up on their hind legs and gallop while their riders do funny or athletic things on their backs.
As someone who doesn't know dressage from Mr. Dress-up, I thought there was a bit too much repetition. The pattern is slow-and-contemplative followed by quick-and-exciting. The gentle ending feels anti-climactic.
But Cavalia is more than a Royal Winter Fair gig with an Ennio Moriccone soundtrack. At times, it's even thrilling. Four legs good.