Cirque du Soleil’s show “OVO ” is about a bug’s life, but any similarity to the Pixar film by that name is purely coincidental.
“OVO,” which runs through Sunday at the Baton Rouge River Center, is an explosion of color and motion in which the circus troupe’s acrobats, actors and artists portray all manner of insects — spiders, fleas, ants, butterflies, scarabs, crickets, cockroaches, a ladybug and more.
“I enjoy so much performing ‘OVO’ because it is very playful,” said Aruna Bataa, 27, an extraordinarily flexible acrobat who performs as the white spider. “We can play with the audience. We have a lot of connection with the audience, and you can build your own character. You can really have fun on stage while you’re performing.”
Cirque du Soleil was started in Montreal by Guy Laliberté in the early 1980s and made its first American appearance in 1987. Known for its colorful costumes, spectacular lighting and original music, it has spawned 36 different shows. This is the troupe’s fourth visit to Baton Rouge, following “Saltimbanco” in 2009, “Alegría” in 2011 and “Varekai” in 2014.
“OVO” began in 2009 in circus tents, toured for six years in America, Asia and Australia, then retired for several months to be reworked for arenas. Baton Rouge is the second stop in “OVO’s” arena incarnation, following last weekend’s show in Lake Charles.
“We changed a lot, actually,” said Jessica Leboeuf, Cirque du Soleil spokeswoman. “The story of the show is the same. The colors and flavors of the show are the same, but the pacing of the show is different. We readjusted a few costumes, a bit of the music, to be able to fill up the show and make an intimate show an arena spectacular.
“You’ll see some of the bugs come into the crowd. You’ll see some of the technical pieces, we transform them into set pieces where some of the acrobats and artists will come and sit there and interact with the public throughout the show.”
It takes 20 semitrucks of equipment to build the world of “OVO,” with 50 performers and an equal number of technicians, wardrobe assistants, managers and directors. That world teems with insect life.
“It’s a very family-friendly show,” Leboeuf said. “Kids are going to see colorful bugs and see a ladybug falling in love with a fly, and then some funny moments and a big party at the end. Adults will see that but will go more into the storyline, and we’ll touch subjects like accepting other people, accepting differences, embracing the differences within the colony.”
Bataa, who was born in Mongolia and grew up in Brazil, typifies the international flavor of the cast and crew. All manner of accents and languages are heard backstage, where various apparatus allow performers to rehearse everything that happens on the arena stage.
She has performed in “Quidam” and “Saltimbanco” and said “OVO” is an eye-catcher.
“This is even more visual with all of the projections and lighting,” Baata said. “Just wait and see. It’s going to be even more visually fantastic, I think.”