Cirque Shanghai knows how to deliver family friendly thrills. In the tented Pepsi Skyline Stage, located in the heart of Navy Pier, a family can get tickets to Cirque Shanghai Extreme as low as $15 for kids (tip: bypass Ticketmaster fees and buy the tickets at the door) for a quick-moving 75 minutes of amazing skills and heart-pumping acrobatics performed by an energetic, youthful cast of mega-talented Chinese performers.
There are hat jugglers, contortionists, stunt motorcyclists, tumblers, roller skaters, hand balancing acts and more. The costumes are colorful, the physical design is eye-catching and the music is lively (if canned).
If you've seen previous Cirque Shanghai incarnations (this is their sixth year at Navy Pier), this one isn't much different. From my memory, about 75 percent of the show is the same from last year's Cloud 9, with the exception of a new opener, some restaging of a few acts, some new scrims and costumes and a motorbike highwire balancing act above audience heads.
Despite the many similarities from previous incarnations, I still had a great time.
The show ends with a daredevil Chinese motorcycle group, "Imperial Thunder," racing in circles inches from each other in a giant steel globe. And while this is the same finale as last year, I held my breath as my pulse kicked up a few notches, just as it did before. This sequence alone is worth the price of admission.
Also, if you attend the Wednesday or Saturday evening shows, Navy Pier's impressive fireworks show follows the performance. If you stay for that, just be prepared for the traffic jam leaving the pier.
"Cirque Shanghai Extreme" plays through Sept. 5 at the Pepsi® Skyline Stage®. More info here >