La Nouba, Cirque du Soleil at Walt Disney World Review
La Nouba is a Cirque du Soleil production held exclusively at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. La Nouba, roughly translates as "to party and live it up", which accurately portrays the general feel of this show, which is a fun romp of amazing acrobatic and physical ability, wrapped in humor, that never takes itself too seriously. This family friendly production is on par with the best Cirque du Soleil productions around the world and should be a must do activity for anyone holidaying at Walt Disney World.
The theatre for La Nouba is located at the most western point of Downtown Disney, the shopping, nightlife and entertainment precinct of Walt Disney World. Being located at Downtime Disney, a world of dining options are available, both before and after performances. Being custom built for this performance, the theatre does not have a bad seat, even with a capacity of excess of 1600 people per performance. No matter where you are seated, you won't miss anything because of a blocked view. Seats are of a standard size for a top Broadway type theatre, though only being 12 years old, the lack of leg room is hugely disappointing. You will have to stand to let people pass, which is even more annoying when people are escorted to their seats well after the show has started. The theatre contains modern bathroom facilities, with low toilet basins for boys and dedicated mothers rooms as you would expect for a theatre on Disney property. Concession stands are well staffed with a variety of popcorn, chocolates, hot dogs to compliment the soft drinks, beer and small bottles of wine, all of which can be taken into the theatre. Prices are high, even by Disney standards, so eating elsewhere before or after is definitely the sensible option if you are on a budget.
The Show - La Nouba
Having seen Cirque du Soleil shows around the world, in both custom built permanent theatres and short term travelling shows, I have found that permanent productions in customised theatres are always a much better, more polished and more spectacular production. La Nouba, in its custom built theatre is no exception. It rivals any of the permanent productions in Las Vegas while being completely family friendly as you would expect for a show hosted at Disney World. The show is worth its relatively heavy entrance price as the entertainers transport you to the world of Cirque for over 2 hours of fun and safe entertainment.
To cater for its family audience, this show relies on humor, especially slap stick comedy (usually in the background) far more than other Cirque shows. The entertainment starts around 15 minutes before the beginning of the show, with the resident clowns, Balto and Serguei interacting with the audience. The show consists of several Cirque favourites, including Ariel Ballet in Silk, where performers use red silk drapes descending from ceiling to perform amazing aerobatic feats and a performance featuring trampolines, with performers bouncing on and off and through the windows of a 3 storey building constructed on stage.
More unique to La Nouba is a pair of BMX/Mountain Bike performers, as they wow the audience with their amazing ability, seemingly breaking the laws of physics on several occasions as they jump on and off platforms that they shouldn't be able to reach and brake at the last possible moment before ploughing into the crowd. A high wire act displays this shows circus roots, with the performers amazing adults and children unlike as they walk across on top of each others shoulders and at one point, the lady even balances on top of the other performer's head.
The show is stolen though by the adorable Chinese girls and their unbelievable skill with the diabolos. The speed, velocity and dexterity these young girls show while handling these juggling props consisting of a spool which is whirled and tossed on a string tied to two sticks held one in each hand, is beyond my ability to describe in words. The audience is on the edge of their seats as these girls put their heart and soul into their performance, culminating in a joyous standing ovation.
The main act on stage at anytime is only just a taste of the entertainment that this show offers. In the background, other performers are interacting, either directly with the main act, as mere observers to the main act, or just with each other completely independent of the main act. Many of the best moments of the show happen in these interactions, with it being difficult to decide whether to focus on the main act or watch the mayhem that is happening behind them. To fully appreciate everything happening in this show, you would have to see it at least twice and could easily be entertained for 2 hours by watching only the shenanigans happening in the background and ignoring the breathtaking main performers entirely. "The Nuts" (Les Cons) steal the show from the background, these four white-faced clowns bumble their way through the show sometimes as spectators and sometimes unwittingly becoming part of the main performance.
La Nouba provides plenty of merchandise and mementos to take home, ranging from commemorative popcorn cups from the concession stand, to the official program which is terrific and worth the $13, to shirts, hats and audio CD's and performance DVD's. Most items are overpriced but at least the option is there and there is a wide range and variety of choice if you are after one of these items.
A holiday to Walt Disney World is never cheap and with so many other entertainment options, including the theme parks themselves, resorts, golf courses, Downtown Disney, miniature golf and water parks, it can be difficult to justify this addition expense into your holiday budget. If you have seen a Cirque du Soleil show elsewhere and have been impressed, La Nouba will exceed your expectations. If you have never had the chance to see Cirque, La Nouba is the perfect introduction to the world of Cirque and its unique twisting of circus, theatre and performance art.