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Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Alegria’ expected to shine at UMass

3739710668_b19fdd6b4eCirque du Soleil, arguably the most famous circus in the world, will be performing one of their best-known shows, “Alegria,” at the University of Massachusetts starting tonight.

Cirque du Soleil, or “Circus of the Sun,” began in 1984 as a small show to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Canada’s discovery. Since then, the Quebec-based circus has expanded to include 19 different shows that have enchanted adults and children alike.

Apart from the fact that this is the 15th anniversary of Alegria, the tour is also part of the 25th anniversary celebration of Cirque du Soleil.

While some of the more recent shows, such as “LOVE” and “Believe,” are themed (the Beatles and Criss Angel, respectively), Alegria, which is Spanish for “joy,” is completely original.

Since its 1994 premiere in Quebec, Alegria has been seen by more than 10 million people in over 65 countries, according to Cirquedusoleil.com/alegria. The production has been revised, so that it can be showcased in arenas, rather than the traditional circus tent set-up. The only noticeable difference for the audience is the increased space, which allows for performers to execute their incredible acrobatics.

The original production has been hailed as “the only game in town, and perhaps the world” by The New York Times.

Alegria incorporates 10 different forms of acrobatics, as well as dancing and singing. While some acts are common to the circus, like trapeze work and juggling, the elite performers in Cirque du Soleil take the performance to an entirely new level. Still other acts, such as the Fire-Knife Dance and the Aerial High Bar performance, are unique to this circus alone.

The current tour is multilingual, like almost all of Cirque du Soleil’s productions. Alegria features a cast of 55 international performers from 17 countries whose talents include acrobatics, music, acting and clowning.

This particular tour began in May, is scheduled to play through January, though more dates are expected to be added on to the schedule. It will travel throughout Canada and the United States.

Alegria will play at the UMass Mullins Center starting today at 7:30 p.m., through Sunday, Sept. 20. The arena is handicap accessible. Adult admission ranges from $40 to $95, while admission for children ages 12 and under starts at $32 and goes up to $76. Children up to two years of age are free, provided that they are sitting on an adult’s lap. These prices do not include additional service fees.

Tickets are on sale now through the Mullins Center Box office by calling (413) 545-0505. Tickets can also be purchased through the Cirque du Soleil website (http:/www.cirquedusoleil.com/alegria), or by calling Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000. There is a discount for University of Massachusetts students, faculty, and staff, as well as seniors and military personnel, with the exception of the shows on Friday, Sept. 18, and Saturday, Sept. 19. All of those qualified for a discount must have a valid ID with them at the time of purchase. The prices range from $32 to $40.

The box office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., one hour before the show is scheduled to begin.

Alissa Mesibov can be reached at amesibov@student.umass.edu.

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