Take me out to the…Cirque Mechanique at Bank Bell Park!
This review was written by Lindsay’s husband, Chris.
The circus, at least a modern mechanical version of it, has come to town, appearing until May 28th out at Bank Bell Park in southeast Mesa.
With my wife working a long shift this past Friday, I had a chance to take my two kids to see Chris and Aida Lashua’s latest incarnation of the modern circus under the big top. Reminiscent of the acts of skill and daring of the old trapeze and tightrope walkers, but married with a theme, great music, choreography, and machines and trampolines – the Cirque Mechanique under Canvas serves up a great 2 hours of entertainment for all ages.
Bell Bank Park is a sprawling sports and event complex located at the junction of Ellsworth and Williams Field roads in southeast Mesa. Parking is plentiful and free and entry into the complex is also free. We were able to park a short walk from the entry into the big canvas tent where the circus takes place.
There are two ticket levels, general admission is 30.00 and VIP is 50.00 We opted for the VIP tickets for the performance, which give you access to the front few rows of seating and early admission to choose your seat and also offered a chance to stay after the show and chat with a few performers for a Q&A.
Seating in both the VIP and general areas is FCFS, so you will want to be early if you have a preference, but there are no bad seats in the tent. The big top is new for the troupe and provides an open-air feel while still allowing everyone to be out of the sun and weather. (It was a little warm right at opening time, but by showtime was very pleasant and towards the very end of the show it was nicely cool.)
We arrived around 6, with the entry for VIP tickets beginning at 6:15 we wanted a little time to look around the park and get our bearings. The tent has two parts, the main tent and a smaller entry/lobby area where you can purchase snacks and merchandise. There was a small bar area for adult drinks as well.
The basic snacks were exactly what you’d want and expect at the circus – popcorn, snow cones, cotton candy, sodas, water, and chips. The large popcorn (8.00) and a few waters (1.00 each) were plenty for the 3 of us, though we did splurge a bit on a few snowcones (blue raspberry, 5.00 each).
We entered the tent at 6:25 and took seats in the front row. The seats are folding chairs you might use at a backyard event, comfortable and stable, well-sized for most people, and also for the kids. Most rows had 4 to 6 seats, a few areas were smaller along the edges. It was easy for families of 6 or 8 to find spots, but I’d go early if you have a large party to make sure you get settled where you want.
The show started at 7:15 and is split into two parts with a 20-minute intermission. The show is based around the theme of a bicycle repairman and those who interact with him – the main set was developed in-house and is designed to be movable and changeable. You will see it used as a prop and also as the basis for many of the stunts and tricks. The first half of the show involved juggling, hula hooping, bike tricks, and gymnasts performing aerial tricks.
Cirque Mechanique at Bank Bell Park
The intermission was the ideal break to get the kids out to the bathroom or just stretch their legs. The nearest park bathrooms were just a 2 or 3 minute stroll into the main park plaza. A short line developed as people headed that way but there was ample time for everyone to get back to the tent for part 2.
The second part of the show involved more juggling, some comic routines, a great audience member participation skit (don’t worry if you’re selected – it was harmless and fun!), and then the grand finale. I won’t give away too much on that but don’t be surprised if your children ask for trampolines for the summer after what they see!
After the show ended, VIPs remained in their seats and once the tent was otherwise cleared out, 5 performers and the owner came out and sat on the stage to introduce themselves and field questions.
With nearly 30 years of experience in the industry, more than a decade of that with Cirque du Soleil, and the last 15 years of it as a traveling troupe, Chris and Aida have a wealth of knowledge about how to construct a show that’s just the right length and composition. The props are unique and well-designed, the theater background of many performers shines through with great comic timing, and the overall sense of family that you feel is not a mirage – this really is a family.
Whether it’s their 3 boys working in the concessions area, mom managing the business, or dad designing new devices, it even extends to the performers, some of whom have been with the troupe since its founding. You’ll feel right at home spending an evening with the Cirque Mechanique at Bell Bank Park, and you’ll be wondering when they are coming back so you can see them again!
We wrapped up at about 9:15. Exiting the lot was easy and it is quite simple to get back onto the 202 freeway either heading west to the 101 or north to the 60.
Showtimes and dates are listed on the website. Saturday has 3 showtimes and Sunday 2 to accommodate younger children who might find it harder to stay awake into the night.