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Audience members sat on the edge of their seats during a multitude of spectacles known as Circus Oz's show "Steampowered."
Almost 1,000 people from all backgrounds and ages, filled the Mondavi Center on Sunday to watch the world-renown, Australia-based Circus Oz.
The light rock music, fog and the costumed performers who were interacting with the audience on stage and within the crowd, set the mood for what would be a two-hour, high-energy rock-n-roll adventure of acrobatics, death-defying feats and irreverent humor .
The families that made up the audience sat in anticipation of the stage-contained show. Some performers mingled with the crowd before the show, while another played with guests from the stage itself by throwing his hat out and seeing, when it was thrown back by a patron, if he could catch it on his head.
Coming alive to the sounds of steam-powered engines, like a train, the stage bustled with people, and the dome rose to reveal a marching band with classic uniforms of red button-up jackets and pants with a stripe down each side. The drummer sat in a makeshift, pipe-like enclosure, giving the impression that it was steam-powered. The musicians also performed as our multitalented entertainers throughout the performance as well.
Most of the performers did not use cables or other protective gear. Instead, thick mats were placed below the artists during aerial pieces. For other acts such as tumbling, thin mats covered the area of the stage.
"Steampowered" lived up to its name, as the audience heard steam shooting from pipes and machines rev up for the fun. Steam, portrayed by the use of fog, remained its own character on the stage through most of the performance by its continuous presence during serious acts, including when the ringmistress sang a slow, serious song during an aerial performance.
One after another, the audience members met many characters they would cheer for throughout the circus. The magician, a man capable of great magic if he didn't mess up the tricks, had a comedic routine involving several classic magic tricks such as scarves coming out of the mouth, but surprises lurked behind every sleight of hand.
Having pulled a fake bird from a handkerchief, he told it to fly and be free, throwing it into the air -- only for it to face-plant into the stage. The crowd laughed as the magician then tried pumping its heart and unsuccessfully trying to make it disappear again.
Fantasia Fitness's Roller Aerobics 101 set those in the crowd into hysterics as they watched her lead her fitness DVD in Rollerblades and '80s spandex workout outfit.
With the help of her buddy Neville, who always failed to catch her or push her too hard, Fantasia Fitness flew off the stage into an aisle and over the ramp that had been set up on the stage. No matter what happened, Fantasia Fitness's positive attitude always shone through comments such as, "I meant to do that."
The aviator, who had dazzled the crowd 20 feet above the stage in a small, makeshift plane on a pole, next attempted to stand on a plank on the side of a circular drum. Impressed by the first few circular additions he stood on, the crowd began murmuring in disbelief. By then, he had stacked at least six circular objects that he would try to balance on a plank. Loud cheers and applause reverberated throughout the theater when he succeeded.
The performers changed costumes frequently in order to reflect the particular acts. While some women wore corsets, bustles and hats, other female performers wore matching outfits to their male counterparts such as pants with suspenders.
This gave uniformity to the act when they were all doing the same thing, such as tumbling through three stacked hoops. Some males wore longer coats and pants with ties, while others wore pants with combinations of suspenders, sleeveless shirts, hats and knee-high boots, which artistically reflected the Victorian era in which the show takes place.
"I want to run away with the circus" was not an uncommon statement from children in the audience and in the lobby. Not one act went by without people, both young and old, around me cheering, clapping, laughing or letting out comments of disbelief.
In the end, Circus Oz was met with a standing ovation.
For more information about Circus Oz, visit its website by clicking here.