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Chicago

Tidings Correspondent

Le Cirque du Soleil has captivated audiences since its debut in a Quebec festival in 1984. &

Le Cirque du Soleil&

was an amalgam of the arts of the circus and the street &

mime, stilt-walking, acrobatics and aerial work on the trapeze, high wire and poles, all performed under a big-top tent. the time &

Le Cirque&

went on worldwide tour in 1986, the show had added music, light effects, elaborate costumes and an overall theme to the performance, and it continues to evolve.

Ashland audiences will be able to experience the &

Le Cirque&

phenomenon &

including a genuine Cirque performer &

when Le Cirque Centre of Ashland presents an adaptation of the hit musical &

Chicago&

April 27-30 at the Historic Ashland Armory.

Le Cirque Centre of Ashland is the creation of Lorenzo SantaBarbara, who describes it as an academy that teaches a fusion of dance, theater and aerial dance. &

It combines musical theater, floor dance and aerial acrobatics.&

The Armory will be turned into a circus venue with five distinct stages, &

including the ceiling&

in a theater in the round setting designed by SantaBarbara

SantaBarbara, fashioned this version of &

Chicago&

as &

family friendly&

with the help of SOU&

s Gwen Overland and OSF&

s Caroline Shaffer. SantaBarbara directs the production with the aid of four student choreographers and Overland and Shaffer as acting coaches.

&

Chicago&

s cast of 30 performers comes mostly from Le Cirque Centre&

s students although SantaBarbara has cast four professional dancer/actors for the lead roles. Aubrey Bauer is cast as the vamp Velma Kelly. Emma Harding is the would-be vamp Roxy Hart. Elronn Ferguson is the opportunistic lawyer Billy Flynn. And David Young serves as &

master of ceremonies.&

SantaBarbara is particularly delighted to have lured Cirque du Soleil veteran Elsie Smith to Ashland to appear in a starring cameo as &

The Judge&

who presides over Roxy Hart&

s trial. &

She will perform a three minute aerial number using a fixed point trapeze,&

according to SantaBarbara.

Elsie Smith was one of the star aerial performers of Cirque du Soleil&

s production of &

Saltimbanco,&

has toured extensively with her own Le Cirque-themed show and currently runs a circus school with her twin sister. Smith will be giving four master classes while she is in Ashland with this production.

SantaBarbara, who created the Children&

s Dance Theater of Ashland, founded Le Cirque Centre last April. The academy currently has 83 students spanning all ages and is located at 280 E. Hersey Street,

19, across from The Dance Space.

Le Cirque Centre&

s &

Chicago&

plays at the Historic Ashland Armory from Thursday, April 27 through Sunday, April 30. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 pm. Tickets are $10 for the Thursday performance and $15 for the other performances. For more information, call 301-6804.