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Big Apple’s ‘Luminocity’ brings glitz, earns gasps at City Hall Plaza

Because of the two-year closing of the Government Center T station, Big Apple Circus (BAC) fans have to wind their way to City Hall Plaza through traffic barriers and construction detours only to find that the show’s opening setting is also barricaded with orange and white barrels, flashing lights, and tiger-striped tape! But that’s yet another marvelous example of life imitating art as “Luminocity,” the 36th annual visit by the celebrated New York troupe, swaps the Plaza for the even more congested Times Square.

The show’s title in part references the mesmerizing gigantic light displays of the “Crossroads of America” recreated in designer J. Michael Deegan’s scenic collage of blinking marquees and video displays. “Luminocity” also salutes the high wattage of all the electrifying performances and the glowing reviews of the production.

In their yellow hardhats and red jumpsuits, the BAC ring crew looks like a road crew. In the opening charivari members of the BAC ensemble march out in everyday street clothes, but underneath they sport skintight sparkly costumes, suggesting that instead of ignoring “ordinary” people we pass on the street, we could discern their amazing, unsuspected talents if we look at them through “circus eyes.”

A case in point is the show’s first artiste. A humble frankfurter hawker is quickly transformed into a “hot dog” himself: Ty Tojo, a 15-year-old Japanese juggler, demonstrates how he won three Guinness world records for his behind-the-back ball-tossing skills.

Other regular folks who morph into circus stars include a dog walker who coaxes motley mutts rescued from shelters into a frisky dog act. An unremarkable pair of businesswomen shed their suits and shoot skyward for the “Mongolian Angels” aerial act. There’s even a pickpocket posing as a magician, or it a magician posing as a pickpocket?

Frenchman Daniel Cyr appears as a paint-spattered repairman who performs don’t-try-this-at-home-kids stunts with a metal ladder. The bare-chested Acro-Duo, pairing a Ukrainian native with a Russian, shows that two nationals can cooperate, at least while doing their balancing and contortionist routine.

Some parts of this all-new edition are pretty conventional like the audience-interaction antics of the Jerry Lewis-like clown, Rob Torres, and the two animal sequences overseen by Jenny Vidbel.

The most remarkable act, the only one approaching a novelty routine, is done by the Portuguese high-wire duo Guerrero, making their Big Apple debut. Not only do the middle-aged husband-and-wife team prove themselves as sure-footed and foolhardy as any young whippersnapper would be on the tight rope, but Aura Cardinali blithely belts out salsa songs as if she were warbling in the shower instead of tiptoeing stories-high among the stage lights.

Finally, dressed with all the spangles of the fireworks on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, the ten-person Dosov Troupe delivers a heart-stopping finale, mixing flawless and fearless teeterboard vaulting with cyborg-y choreography.

“Luminosity” continues to bring very welcome glitz and gasps to our fair city through May 11. No seat is more than 50 feet from ringside. More details at bigapplecircus.org.