‘A remarkable pairing’ of performances

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First Posted: 9/16/2013

The show, a coupling of performance arts one would rarely think to put together, is so astounding that the people in it can still hardly believe it happens and that they are, in fact, a part of it.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Christopher Walls, a man who has studied music since the age of 12 and has found himself putting his talents and musical passion to good use as music director of Cirque Musica, an over-the-top spectacle that will take over the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza Sept. 22.

“It’s a mash-up between a circus and a symphony orchestra; that’s the best way I can describe it,” Walls said with a laugh. “It’s two things you never thought would be put together, put together. It’s a remarkable pairing.”

The show features the “clown of clowns” David Larible, who has headlined circus in arenas and theaters across Europe and is making his return to the United States where he previously was the headliner for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. The show will also feature the world famous Wallenda Highwire Duo, the thrilling España Family, and a cast of world-renowned performers.

Cirque Musica is produced by Stephen Cook and TCG Productions out of Dallas, Texas.

Walls was asked to preview the stage version of the show in November, and he said it has been “a roller coaster ride ever since.” The show was put together in an arena for the first time in June of this year.

“It’s blown everyone away,” he said. “The audiences love it, the circus performers love it, the musicians love it – we all love it.”

While the visuals are certainly stunning, it’s the large span of musical genres that back the show up that keep it interesting, and accessible, to all.

“One of beautiful things is that we have music that appeals to everyone: Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ to [David Guetta and Sia’s] ‘Titanium’ are arranged right now,” Walls said. “There’s Beatles stuff in the show, Beethoven’s Fifth, Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto. Actually, a violinist plays that from memory beautifully and actually performs an act while she’s doing it. It’s ridiculous.”

While it may be easy to see how kids coming to enjoy the show could latch on to the newer music pieces, some may be left to wonder how such classical pieces are accessible to young ones, or those who simply have no interest in that genre of music.

“I grew up with Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, all of that music, and none of it was written for Tom and Jerry or Bugs Bunny,” Walls said. “That’s all classical, and we’re making that music accessible the same way those people did.”

A local orchestra is invited to play at every show. The Northeast Pennsylvania Philharmonic will be a part of the arena show.

“We built it in a way where it’s not very difficult for the local orchestra,” he said. “The hardest part is meeting a new symphony in every town. In every venue, we meet a new orchestra that has to learn the show quickly. Most musicians are very much alike and have the music worked out before I show up.”

Though there are some hang-ups when it comes to dealing with new musicians at every arena.

“Getting them to pay attention!” Walls said with a laugh. “It’s easy for me because my back is to the audience and to the acts; I’m the only one that doesn’t get to see the show. But then you have a flute player up there that, like the audience, has never seen the show, so she’s trying to watch the performance, her music, and me at same time. It’s almost like the local musicians are performing their own circus acts.”