The world’s largest touring big top has arrived in Seattle and brought with it a Cirque du Soleil show of epic proportions. Featuring 66 horses and 52 artists (including riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians), Odysseo by Cavalia is the newest Cirque creation to marry equestrian arts, stage arts, and high-tech theatrical effects in a magical two-hour production. And it’s the reason Seattle families are flocking to Marymoor Park. Read on for the inside scoop on this larger-than-life equestrian spectacular.
What’s the story about?
Unlike other Cirque-style shows, Odysseo doesn’t follow a storyline. Instead, the show takes you on a journey to a world where humans and horses live in harmony. The show is set in a misty, enchanted forest where horses graze and frolic under a sky of rolling clouds and a setting sun. And as the journey evolves with the seasons so do the landscapes which are projected onto a high-definition backdrop—the size of three IMAX screens! From mountains to deserts, canyons to savannas, and waterfalls to night skies, you will see dozens of horses and their dramatically costumed riders illustrate the synergies that horses and humans have developed over the ages.
Horses, and acrobats, and music. Oh my!
By combining elements of modern dance, staging, and acrobatic stunts with equestrian skills that go way beyond prancing and jumping, Odysseo takes its latest creation to new, heightened levels. You will see male and female riders standing atop, rolling under, and swinging by one foot from their racing mounts as they sprint across the stage at lightening speeds. In between the captivating and heart-pounding horse scenes, a troupe of comical acrobats from Guinea pump up the crowd with their amazing stunts. These super-talented and extremely limber performers spring into human pyramids, perform multiple back flips across the stage, and flip over obstacles with complete ease. When they face off against a group of performers who bounce on bungee-like stilts, they prove they can not only do the same stunts…but they can do them better! And just when you think these guys could not get any more talented, they prove they can also drum, dance and get the crowd to clap and chant in unison.
Of course, this Cirque-style production wouldn’t be complete without unbelievable feats of balance and strength. Cue the full-scale carousel which drops from the ceiling with performers balancing off the poles in mind-blowing positions. Or the ballerina aerialists (draped in white silky capes) who flawlessly form a human maypole as riders on horses below spin them around. And just like all great Cirque shows, this production includes a live band which plays Cirque-style music throughout the show and an impressive finale. And by impressive, we mean an 80,000 gallon lake which forms at the base of the mountain (right before your very eyes) for the horses and riders to frolic through.
What’s the scene like inside the White Big Top?
Standing 125 feet tall (think 10-story building) and equivalent in size to two NFL football fields, the White Big Top is absolutely ginormous. When you and your kiddos enter the tent, you will immediately be transported into a lavish and intimate environment reminiscent of any permanent theatre. In fact, it’s easy to forget this is a “traveling” show. The 17,500 square foot stage (which is larger than a hockey rink) is made up of 10,000 tons of stones, dirt and sand sculpted to create a sandy-floored stage and an impressive mountain top. Every seat under the White Big Top is guaranteed to be good and we couldn’t agree more. Kids will have no problem seeing the stage, the performers, and the horses from wherever they’re sitting.
Good to know:
- Parking is $15 (cash) at Marymoor Park. Although, we did see options to pay for parking at the concession stands.
- Strollers are not allowed inside the Big Top so leave them behind.
- The seat rows are fairly close together so take the items you can’t live without and leave everything else behind.
- Restrooms are located outside the entrance tent so bring along a rain coat or umbrella if the skies are unforgiving. During intermission, the restroom lines can get long so plan accordingly.
- The G-rated show appeals to families with children of all ages. Unlike other Cirque-style shows, you won’t find any scary clowns or creatures lurking in the background.
- Fidgety toddlers may find it hard to sit through the entire two-and-half-hour show (which includes a 30-minute intermission). If your little one gets restless, get up, stretch your legs, and explore the entrance area. This is where you will find cool souvenir stands with everything from t-shirts and CDs to Odysseo mugs, programs, and of course stuffed horses! (Psst... The adorable horses aren’t cheap. The smallest ones will cost you $25 and the largest ones will set you back $75).
- Refreshments and snacks are available when you enter the White Big Top and are allowed at your seat. No outside food or drink is allowed, but we did see kids with sippy cups and plastic snack bags.
- No photography (of any kind) is allowed inside the White Big Top so leave your fancy camera behind. If you want to grab a keepsake photo, bring your iPhone and grab a pic in front of the White Big Top or inside the entrance tent.
- During the show, the sound effects do get loud and the lighting gets dark. Prepare sensitive ears and eyes for what’s to come. It also wouldn’t hurt to install a flashlight app on your iPhone–just in case.
- If you really want to impress your kids, purchase VIP tickets. Not only will you get to enjoy delish food before the show and at intermission, but you will get to tour the horse stables after the show. This is where you can also meet the trainers, grab a pic with some of the acrobats in the show, and take pictures of your kids with the horses.
February 19-March 16
Tickets range from $34.50 to $149.50; VIP packages range from $129.50 to $249.50
Babes in arms and kids under 2 (on laps) are free
Do you plan on taking your kids to see Odysseo? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section below.
Photo credit: François Bergeron, Shelley Paulson, Pascal Ratthé & Lynne Glazze/Odysseo by Cavalia