By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 29, 2024 at 10:01 AM

"OK, you can dance, but can you do it on ice skates?"

"Looks like you’re a good ice skater, but can you juggle? And do spins while holding a grown woman above your head with one hand?"

I probably spent an inordinate amount of time in February 2019 – when "Crystal" debuted at the Fiserv Forum –imagining how interviews went as Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil was assembling the cast of its first-ever ice show, which has returned to the same venue this weekend, running through Sunday.

As I noted the first time 'round, what may have opened looking a little bit like a fairly typical skating exhibition quickly redefined itself as classic Cirque, with a mix of gorgeous lighting, evocative music, stunning acrobatic feats, quirky choreography and a dash of humor (and a dose of hockey).

"Crystal" entertains with its gasp-inducing trapeze segments and smile-generating choreographed sequences – and some that had a darker mood – that made me think at times that I might’ve been watching a Kraftwerk video, and beautiful set design and lighting.

The returning show features the same storyline, but a number of different performers and a different artistic director who made a few artistic changes.

(PHOTO: Matt Beard/Cirque du Soleil)

Pre-recorded music throughout "Crystal" is augmented by a group of musicians performing live, which adds an extra dimension to the sound and allows for the musicians to become part of the audience-facing show.

If at first you think that "Crystal" feels a little tamer than some other Cirque productions, that feeling melts away when you remember everyone is on skates.

As always, there’s a story line. In a frigid town  with wandering minstrals playing music worthy of Yann Tiersen, a town pagliaccio whipping snowballs at the audience and doing his best John Ritter impersonation, tumbling over the retaining wall around the rink and generally hamming it up  a misunderstood, introspective girl named Crystal takes to the ice to skate and escape her oppressive reality.

Soon, cracks form and Crystal finds herself in a frozen underworld that is either real or imaginary, we can’t be sure. But, honestly, it doesn’t matter. Whatever the particulars of her journey of self-discovery, it’s the trek itself that thrills us with its movement, its sound, its light, its excitement.

The show, appropriate for all ages (I took my kids, who loved it), has performances Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 1.

Ticket prices vary and there are a few packages (VIP, family pack, etc.) available, so go here for details and to purchase.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.