Friday, June 24, 2011

Cirque du Soleil: Varekai

Cirque du Soleil had its first show in the Philippines. Simply called Verakai, it will only have limited runs here and afterwards, in Brazil. Quite strange that it didn’t go to any other Asian countries considering that it is already here.

The venue was at Quirino Grand Stand, which was near Manila Hotel (event’s sponsors) and across Rizal Park.

We booked our tickets at the last minute pending visit to doctor’s office just to check on the status of the pregnancy. Once I had my go signal, I immediately booked for the earliest shows possible which was the 7:30PM show on June 23, 2011.

Ticket prices for this show are as follows:

Php 6,500

Php 4,900

Php 3,800

Php 2,700

(Note: prices for weekend shows are more expensive)

There is also a special package worth Php 10,500 per person. Called Tapis Rouge VIP Experience, it includes preferred seatings, reserved parkings, food and refreshments before the show and during intermission and special tent area to have these refreshments as well.

On booking tickets, it was quite easy as everything was done online. So all you need is your credit card for the payment and tickets will be sent to your email address wherein you just open the attached PDF file and print them out.

So we have the tickets and we have the show to watch. Unfortunately, we were also caught in a strong storm. So there were heavy rains, heavy traffic and lots of flooded areas. It was a good thing we left the house early to prepare for this and even had a nice dinner at Max’s Restaurant in Malate where I maximized their Php 200 all you can eat chicken promo. Even with the restaurant being just 10 minutes away from where the show it, it took us about 30 minutes to get there. So be early!

Parking was difficult as almost all the available open parking areas were ankle-deep in flood waters. Good thing the nice marshals let us leave our car right where the entrance of the tents were. But it was still a challenge to get out of the car and cross the very wet floor to the tents all the while with the strong winds and rains. I was extra careful too as had a pregnant wife with me!

The tents were bigger than I thought as there were two snack bars inside (selling popcorns, soft drinks among other things) and some souvenir booths selling shirts, funny hats (worth Php 1,300 each), Cirque Soleil pens, and souvenir programs (worth Php 200). There was also a photo booth selling an 8x10 photo in a souvenir folder (worth Php 500). I ended up buying… nothing! Haha!

And let me tell you why: the shirts and hats were expensive, which was expected as imported products but none of them had the Verakai words or art on it. They just had the normal Cirque du Soleil words and logo. The most interesting thing you would have gotten could be the souvenir program but it just wasn’t for me as it just had a lot of pictures and sponsors’ ads at the back of the program. Not much words in it..

The 8x10 photo was interesting too but then again, Sunlife Philippines offered free 4x6 photos if you just add them on Facebook (to which we did). So why pay for something when you can get it free? Plus we could take photos inside the tent (but not where the show was performing) so that added to our souvenir photos as well.

There are other ways to get free stuffs here: BDO will give you free cellphone holder if you write down your email address and mobile number and even gave out one Ipod shuffle to one of the registered person here. Manila Hotel will give you a special Cirque du Soleil discount card (valid up to August 2011), giving you 20% off on their rooms and food plus a very nice note pad featuring this show.

So again, why buy for anything when you can get them for free? (But of course, this is just my personal opinion...)

In the Cirque du Soleil website, they had nice Verakai products for sale on their online store: there were CDs, mask ornaments and fridge magnets and even a DVD of the show. So why weren’t any of these things being sold here? Now, these are things I might be tempted to get…

For our seats, I booked the 2nd cheapest one as the cheapest were already sold out. But because of the weather and heavy traffic, there were a lot of vacant seats still available by the time we got there. And we were given an option to sit nearer to the stage. Without a second thought, we left our original seats and went right to the front of the stage. Wow, now that was an awesome deal! Haha! Definitely a great savings for us!

The show would run for 2 hours plus 15 minutes intermission in between the hours. It was quite nice to be transported into another world via Cirque du Soleil and quite impressive too. There was comedy here notably that of a singing man who literally chased the spotlight and same man performing cheap magic tricks with a healthy woman. There was suspense in terms of the various acrobatic acts and they had a grand finale via the use of Russian Swings, which was really spectacular (and a little bit scary as you would fear that the performers would fall on YOU). There was amazement in the contortionists and the various balancing and juggling acts here. The costumes and set pieces were grand as well (they shipped the entire tent and all of its contents to the Philippines). All of these things leave a lasting impression on you and I recommend that you should still watch it for the experience alone. After all, who knows when the next Cirque will come to town?

Outside the show but still inside the tent.

Huge circus tent!

Here is a brief synopsis of the show:

Deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano, exists an extraordinary world—a world where something else is possible. A world called Varekai.

From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins. Parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest, a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary. On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered.

The word Varekai means "wherever" in the Romany language of the gypsies the universal wanderers. This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai

Correction: Verakai just came from South Korea and Taiwan and Philippines is its last leg for its Asian performances.


eman macabulos said...

wow! inggit! :D

Nat said...

I got FREE tickets from Vince for this! Sophie and I went since Dave was sick. I didn't know it was so expensive. Nice show though.

Yvette Lising said...

Just got back from Varekai, it was very heart-stopping indeed! I'm just wondering how long will the photos take before I get them on facebook. :D