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Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Highlights from Cirque du Soleil’s new Nashville show ‘Songblazers’

By meerna Jul12,2024
Highlights from Cirque du Soleil’s new Nashville show ‘Songblazers’

It was the most spectacular bar fight in the world: a strongman was hammering nails into frying pans with his bare hands, and lots of people were flying, spinning and twirling in the air.

This wasn’t just any random evening on Nashville’s Lower Broadway, but rather “Songblazers,” Cirque du Soleil’s country music-themed production performed Wednesday night at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville.

Described as “a journey into the world of country music,” the show, developed in partnership with Universal Music Group Nashville, showcased a rich catalog of musical works spanning 1867–2024, brought to life by a cast of musicians, actors, clowns, aerialists, jugglers and acrobats.

The Tennessean was in the audience for opening night, and we’ve compiled a list of our favorite parts of the show.

Music

The basis of “Songblazers,” and the reason it was created in the first place, was to celebrate a country music legend. The show is filled with a variety of music, from historical recordings like “Down to the River to Pray” to more familiar tunes like “Achy Breaky Heart,” “Copperhead Road,” “Crazy,” “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and “Friends in Low Places,” to name a few.

Many of the songs are original master recordings, so the show features the voices of Steve Earle, Toby Keith and Shania Twain, while others were performed by musicians and singers on stage. Banjo player Steve Ray was a star among the many talented musicians on the show.

It’s worth noting that the show’s creators did a good job of showcasing country music from all decades and styles. There’s bluegrass, gospel hymns, outlaw country, ‘90s country, Americana tunes, and one new original song, “Carnival Heart,” so it didn’t feel like the show was full of today’s top country songs that will be outdated in a year.

The music from the show is like a masterfully crafted Spotify playlist of the best country songs.

Humor

No Cirque du Soleil production would be complete without a bit of humor woven into the story. In “Songblazers,” the laughs came from a clumsy train brakeman trying to fix a massive freight train and “Blaze and Pearl,” resplendent in bright blue and orange fringe and ruffles, who perform incredible hand-to-hand acrobatics in their signature clumsy style.

While Pearl sings her rendition of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”, Blaze lifts her above his head and then drops her repeatedly, catching her just before she hits the ground while Pearl continues to try to sing.

During one of the more serious moments in the series, when the main characters are having fun and singing around a campfire, a brakeman appears in the scene and plays a few strange notes on the saxophone, including the familiar first bar of “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”. When he tries to fix the train, his tool belt won’t buckle, tools fall to the ground, and his role as an irritated mechanic is genuinely funny.

Costumes: Beyoncé’s Stylist Zerina Akers Dressed Up as Cirque Du Soleil’s New Country Style

Behind the scenes: What can you expect from Cirque du Soleil’s country-themed musical ‘Songblazers’?

Stunts

Admit it, this is what you want to see in a Cirque show. Insanely talented (and flexible!) people doing crazy things high above the stage. That’s what this production company is known for. And the “Songblazers” bring their own circus act to the production, albeit decked out in stereotypical cowboy bangs and hats instead of the usual mysterious Cirque makeup and costumes.

The deadliest feat, one might say, was the “outlaws” who stopped a train, removed a railroad crossing beam, and threw one of their troupe members high in the air as she fell and landed on the springy beam. There were no safety nets or safety ropes. Only she fell into the rafters and landed perfectly on the beam that was resting on the shoulders of her fellow outlaws.

But the otherworldly talent didn’t stop there. A group of acrobats from Tanzania entertained the audience by setting themselves up into three-person towers and somersaulting from the top. They formed human pyramids, bounced and flipped in the air, demonstrating superhuman strength and skill, assembling the pyramid while members of the group climbed over bodies, balanced on the top of a chain, and then flipped back to earth.

Bruno Macaggi’s red Solo Cup juggling act was also quite funny. In the bar scene, the juggler holds two red cups while simultaneously throwing in and taking out others from the ones he’s holding. All this to the accompaniment of “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith.

A trapeze act in which the two performers twisted, twirled and hung from each other’s bodies, a hoop act and the clumsy talents of Blaze and Pearl rounded out the stunts.

While not as outrageous as the acrobatics and trapeze acts in many Cirque shows, the “Songblazers” crew certainly aims to entertain with their version of a classic European country circus.

If you go:

What:”Singers”

Where:Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC)

When:runs daily until July 28

Tickets: www.tpac.org

By meerna

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