Under the Big Tent: Cavalia

Every third billboard in St. Louis now is promoting “Cavalia,” a show that has been deemed the greatest thing that Larry King has ever seen.

That’s high praise, until you consider the source. I suspect Larry King is no stranger to hyperbole. He probably told all of his seven wives that they were the greatest love of his life. So I decided I’d better check it out for myself. Plus, The Wife loves the horses.

The show, billed as a “multimedia equestrian spectacular,” opened last night under the recently erected White Big Top across from Busch Stadium. When you get there it turns out it’s not just one big tent, but rather an entire tent city. In addition to the performance tent there’s also a tent with a snack bar, gift shop and lounge area. That was where we had to pick up our tickets, so we hooked up with Julie who informed us that we were also invited to visit the Rendez-Vous tent where there was food and an open bar. Now, I’ve been to enough LawyerCons to know that some people don’t need to hear the words “open bar” twice, so off we went.

A nice man escorted us the few feet it took to go from one tent to another, and even though I was full from my chicken sandwich and waffle fries dinner, I made room for some shrimp, guacamole and chips and other delicacies. The Wife made room for Chardonnay. We made our way to the main tent to watch the show.

For the Cavalia-impaired, the show is what happens when you mix circus acrobats with horses. It’s a blend of Cirque du Soleil, Riverdance, Lord of the Rings and rodeo — all with horses. Beautiful, majestic horses. There are 45 horses of various breeds in the show and one ghost horse.

The show opens with a quiz projected on the curtains followed by video of a horse giving birth. From there it’s a number of human-and-horse segments that mix trick riding with high-wire gymnastics and other stunts, all with French titles that I can’t pronounce or spell.

The stage setup is clever: there’s a long stretch in front of the stage for the horses to race back and forth and a center ring for performances and an elevated second ring. Areas can be expanded or closed off depending on the act. A live band would occasionally show up on an elevated stage behind the main curtain.

After an hour the loudspeakers announced a 30-minute intermission. Thirty minute intermission? I hate intermission. Such a waste of time. And 30 minutes? How are we supposed to kill a half-hour? We went for a walk and wound up back at the Rendez-Vous, where they were now serving a variety of desserts. I could grow to love intermission if they all featured tiny strawberry shortcakes and an open bar. Thirty minutes flew by.

The second act was a bit more lively and exciting than the first. A number of horses came out and did maneuvers (which The Wife assures me are very difficult) and the humans did a lot of impressive stuff too.

If you love circus acrobatics and horses, you will love “Cavalia.” Was it the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen in my life — probably not, but I may have different standards than Larry King.

“Cavalia” is a very unique and entertaining show. If they ever get it to where the horses are somersaulting on the trampolines and swinging around on ropes high above the stage, that would be the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen.

Cavalia runs through April 16 in St. Louis. http://www.cavalia.net/

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