by Linda Burlingame
As I was watching the Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai, I knew that when I wrote my article I would be using the Thesaurus frequently, to find synonyms for the word “amazing.” Every act was a new reaction of “Wow!” “Unbelievable.” That’s a good one. “Astonishing!” Yes. And did you know “amazingness” is a word. Yes, it is. And this show is packed with amazingness!
I often found myself mesmerized by the magic-like maneuvers and realizing I was not taking notes. Some of the acts feature solo acrobats, while others feature several. In some ways it’s even more astounding when a dozen young people are executing such incredible feats with so much precision. They’re like a perfect chorus line — arms, legs, and hands all in sync.
“Timing is everything.” True in many aspects of our lives and certainly true when these acrobats are performing in tandem. When all the boys have three hats each and they’re twirling, tossing the toppers not only on their own heads but also to each other. Or when they’re hoop diving, hurling themselves through the hoop; the hoop gets higher, and they touch their toes in the air as they go through. Then they fly through, stack themselves, and toss each other back through. (Make sense?!) It’s “mind-boggling.” (That’s at least four of my synonyms!)
I’ve been writing about shows in Branson for almost three decades. I’ve sometimes thought it would be fun to do a Popcorn Rating for each show. “Five Kernels” would be equal to a Five Star rating. The popcorn at the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre would get a “Five Kernels” rating. It’s delicious! The kernels are all the same size, delectably popped to crunchy perfection with coconut oil. It’s even healthy! So when you say to yourself before the show or at intermission, “Do I really want popcorn?” Yes, you do. Big box. (You’re welcome.)
Some narration with the show reveals some of the history and culture behind the routines the acrobats do. Festivals and ancient customs influence many of the acts. Women would use household items when performing — like plate spinning, and in this show a young lady rides a unicycle while balancing bowls on her head, flipping one bowl after another onto the stack! A young boy balances on pieces of pipe, first three … then five. Jumping rope and twirling yo-yos — but nothing like we did as kids! (Do kids still jump rope?)
The costumes are a colorful addition to the show, and the background music often creates a mood. It’s a love song when lovers take flight on intertwined lengths of satin, soaring high above the stage. Again I wonder at the skill … and strength … that it takes to master all theses acrobatic feats. I think about practice when they first started learning the acrobatics. I’m sure they had their fair share of “Oops!” and “Ouch!”
The audience was every bit as impressed as I was. I enjoyed watching the faces around me. Everyone was a kid again — eyes wide, big smiles. Amazing Acrobats of Shanghai at the Mickey Gilley Grand Shanghai Theatre, for kids of all ages! Enjoy!