Daring young men and fajitas: Cirque comes to town

The Bee’s Donald Munro and Craig Kohlruss checked out dress rehearsal Wednesday, and Donald filed this blog at www.fresnobeehive.com:

The setting: The newly set up “Varekai” stage at Save Mart Center on Wednesday afternoon. It’s a Cirque du Soleil tradition to open the rehearsal on opening day briefly to the media, who tend to ooh and aah at the sight of sculpted bodies flying through the air and ask things like, “Is that dangerous?” (Seriously, I heard that question.)

The showcase act: The Russian Swings, which is not 1) evidence that Vladimir Putin has fallen in love with American swing dancing and made “Chattanooga Choo Choo” his hotline ring tone; nor 2) the Moscow TV version of “Celebrity Wife Swap.” Instead, various young men take turns being pushed on giant swings that are basically the burliest version of playground equipment you’ll ever see. Sometimes the men fling themselves at one of two large pieces of canvaslike material acting as nets that hang from the roof of the Save Mart Center. Other times the men actually are launched off one swing to land on the other, otherwise known as every school yard duty’s worst nightmare. The men are divided into fliers (slim-bodied and aerodynamic) and pushers (with legs as thick as TOPOL-M intercontinental ballistic missiles). Talk about typecasting.

The backstage: We see costumes being repaired and ironed. (The show travels with six washing machines and two dryers.) I’ve been known to throw a dress shirt away because I don’t know how to sew on a button, so I quickly exhaust conversational topics with the head of wardrobe. I’m more interested in asking about the food, because it’s 3 p.m. and I’m hungry. Turns out that the five food folks who travel with the show whip up high-quality grub for the performers and crew. (Gotta keep those fliers trim and those pushers in their bouncer physiques.) Considering there are 19 nationalities represented on the tour, there’s lots of variety on the menu. Pasta, fajitas, Indian and anything with salmon are among the favorites. Oh, and don’t forget the borscht. Russians love their borscht.

The takeaway: I post a photo of the rehearsal on Facebook, along with a note to myself reminding me not to audition for the Russian Swings. (I’ll stick to the playground at Woodward Park, thank you very much.) A reader writes back asking what part of the show I would consider trying out for. I think for a moment and reply: I could work the salad bar. As long as there’s a soup of the day besides borscht.

Go to the Save Mart Center's website for ticket information.

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