Kooza, Cirque du Soleil Premiere, Royal Albert Hall

Sitting in the great Royal Albert Hall on 8th January with Jeremy Clarkson on my right, Darcy Bussell on my left and Holly Valance (avec Candy Bro Beau) behind,  I felt sure that I had the hottest ticket in London. Next morning I was reassured further by my mother’s reports from the Daily Mail website… celebrities turned up in their masses to the Cirque du Soleil premiere… well why would you turn down a golden ticket to see the greatest circus show in the world?

Kooza is a story of opposites: love and hate, life and death, fear and wonder. Loosely based around the world of a clown, the narrative begins and ends with notions of innocence and trickery. Like most of the Cirque shows, the storyline is enigmatic and rather nonsensical and soon becomes lost. In fact it is impossible to focus on anything logical when your eyes and ears are so involved in the acts on stage, praying silently they’ll survive the next jump.

As ever the production is beautifully realised, perfectly poetic and looks magically surreal from start to finish. They create another world that feels so far removed from everyday life, and gives every audience member a few hours of euphoric escapism. Music is played live on stage by an energetic band of musicians, adding to the dramatic climaxes. The Royal Albert Hall provides an epic canvas for the production and the stage has been customised wonderfully to allow for the extensive set design. Stephane Roy evokes memories of colourful carnivals and circuses of yesteryear, claiming it is “a genuine return to the roots of Cirque du Soleil”.

There is a good mix of talents exhibited in Zooza with the familiar ‘circus’ traditions all displayed through the acts: mind-bogglingly strange contortionists, a daring trapeze artist and miraculous tightrope walkers/ cyclists/ dancers. The clowning around became a little tiresome, especially at the start while we waited for the final arrivals from the red carpet to take their seats. When you consider the virtuosic gymnastics, it is hardly surprising that the comical acts pale in comparison.

The most electrifying act of the show is undoubtedly the huge ‘wheel of death’. A staggering, scary, revolving metal contraption balanced and set in motion by two incredibly brave men. As one runs faster the other jumps, twists and clings to the spinning wheel, seemingly moments away from a distrastrous fall. The crowd gasped and I felt my palms grow sweaty and my throat dry as each turn increased in difficulty and danger. I loved the final Teeterboard act too. A talented group of performers take it in turns to catapult from a giant seesaw, hurtling up into the air, sometimes with precarious stilts attached to their feet, they land immaculately after numerous flips and turns.

Cirque du Soleil continues to push the boundaries of human capability with yet another hit show of fantasy, thrills and breathtaking acrobatics, all whilst creating a display that is visually inspiring and musically exquisite. I never fail to be amazed by this impossibly brilliant company. Bravo.

Kooza continues until 14th February, more information and buy tickets here.

Leave it on the Floor Film Premiere, Leicester Square Theatre

On a damp, Olympic fuelled Wednesday night a select group of Londoners gathered at the Leicester Square Theatre for the premiere of Leave it on the Floor, a vivacious, colourful musical set around the LA Ball scene. It is an intimate affair with an eccentric, elite crowd of men, women and elaborately dressed drag queens. Creeping through the bedazzled and bejewelled troupe, I felt very underdressed, normal and bland!

Theatrical legend Simon Callow introduced director Sheldon Larry who enthusiastically announced his prized cinematic work. This original musical takes its inspiration from the documentary Paris is Burning. Leave it on the Floor concerns a group of outcast gay, transvestite and transsexual men strutting their stuff in assorted fashions as they compete on the catwalk before a panel of judges. The film documents the trials and troubles of handsome lead Brad, who finds himself a new family at the House of Imminence after being kicked out of home by his bullying mother. We watch as the romance and drama unfold in a musical which manages to be strangely touching.

It is a poignant and memorable narrative and as the film develops, I was amazed to discover how affecting and touching the musical manages to be. Surprisingly even my macho guest admitted to enjoying this unconventional film. The cast are confident and convincing and work together in a collaborative team; stars Ephraim Sykes, Andre Myers and Phillip Evelyn are particularly impressive. The rest of the audience seemed equally engaged, watching fascinated while adjusting their wigs and stockings. The girls toilet queue was an equally shocking show of costume and flirtation as ladies and “ladies” both lined up waiting their turn for a cubicle! I was reminded of my favourite West End musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert as I admired the extravagant and intricate clothes and immaculate make-up… it put me to shame in my hideously casual boyish attire.

After the viewing guests were treated to a magnificent show from the Supreme Fabulettes and the most hardcore of visitors then went on to continue celebrating at Madame Jojos round the corner.

Leave it on the Floor was on at the Leicester Square Theatre.