O by Cirque du Soleil
At a Glance
What is it?
A dramatic and ethereal production by Cirque du Soleil featuring a giant water tank for a stage and lots of acrobats, divers, swimmers, and avant-garde set pieces.
Where is it?
In a custom-built theater at Bellagio on the Center Strip.
Is it worth the cost?
If you’re a fan of Cirque, it is absolutely worth cost.
Why should I see this show?
Because the idea of a Cirque show on water is intriguing to you.
What else do I need to know?
This is one of the most popular shows in town so tickets can be hard to come by at peak times.
What’s the bottom line?
This is not my favorite Cirque show in town but it is still very, very good.
Choosing your favorite Cirque du Soleil show is a bit like choosing your favorite child. No one wins.
There are a lot of people who choose O at Bellagio as their favorite and it is hard to argue with them. It is stunning, both artistically and, at times, emotionally as their blend of daring acrobatics, eye-popping set pieces, music, and humor come together to create a package that is at once unique and yet familiar to anyone who has seen a Cirque show before. And yet, as good as it is, I can’t quite get to the point where I can call it my favorite.
The central conceit here is the stage has been replaced with a giant tank holding 1.5 million gallons of water. Platforms raise in and out of it to create a solid stage at times, but most often it’s a big pool. What this means is that you have people swimming in it, diving into it, or hovering around or above it and rather than expanding the possibilities of the action it seems to hinder it. After a while the acrobatic portion of the Cirque canon starts to feel a bit repetitive.
There are some standout moments. The gymnastics performed above the pool on what appears to be a pirate ship floating through the air are gasp-inducing (especially when someone misses and they plunge into the pool below). And the diving segment that starts with people launching from swings beside the stage and ends with high-dives from the top of the theater is impressive. Also enjoyable are the clowns that provide some comic relief before and during the show. They even have a couple of sweet moments that speak to the value of friendship as they work together to keep their floating house from sinking.
The rest of the acts – synchronized swimming, trapeze artists, contortionists, fire dancers, and the like – are typical Cirque stock and trade, which is to say that the performers are great at what they do but not especially unique.
The visuals are perhaps the most exciting part of the show. It’s like one long fever dream with wild costumes, amazing sets, and avant garde props. The part where red-coated men float in on carousel horses that slowly melt into the pool is nothing short of gorgeous.
If you were to pin me down and force me to pick my favorite Cirque children I’d have to go with Michael Jackson ONE first, Mystère second, KA third, and then O fourth. That is in no way a knock against O – it is an amazing show – but rather a statement about how the other three are just a bit more amazing. But despite the high ticket prices, even if you decide O is your favorite child, you will not likely be disappointed in your choice.