Sometimes when you hear that a show will have 22 performers onstage you worry that it might be a little too busy, but that is not something you should worry about when you go to see Line 1. Emmy Award-winning choreographer Debra Brown (a Montrealer), who has worked with Cirque du Soleil, Madonna and on the Academy Awards, has created a show that is a treat for the eyes and ears without being too overwhelming. There often is several things going on onstage at the same time, but it is done à la Cirque du Soleil so we are able to take it all in.
The 90 minute show (with one intermission) starts off with 5 vocalists (3 male and 2 female) singing an African sounding song and it leads into a tap dancer. Tap dancer Mark Mendonca, dressed all in black, uses a microphoned board to perform upon so all the taps were amplified. Using a trick courtesy of Cirque du Soleil there was a 'character' (Marc-André Lavoie) who was watching the whole proceedings from the fringes. Eventually he showed up center stage and did two numbers. One involving a huge wheel which he was inside of and one humourous one where he danced with a mannequin. To demonstrate what a trooper he was even after his mannequin dance partner's arms and legs fell off he continued to dance. A Latin music number was accompanied by two female contortionists/dancers/gymnasts (Jinny Jacinto and Laurence Racine) who twisted their bodies into pretzel-like shapes. This flowed into a long guitar solo by Dom Dagenais who ended up continuing the solo while performing front and back flips on a trampoline. Aerialist Samuel Alvarez did an act involving chains instead of the usual trapeze bar and later on he and Laurence Racine performed together on a hula-hoop shaped trapeze. There was even a number after the intermission that involved the crowd getting up to dance and the Line 1 performers did not have to do much convincing as everyone there was in a great mood due to the energy of the show.
Everything in the show flowed from one number to the next with no pause or a very small one. All performances were accompanied by a very talented band (Patrice Agbokou – bass, Nicolas Boulay – trumpet, Mohamed Coulibaly – drummer, Dom Dagenais – guitar, Melissa Lavergne – percussionist, Matthieu Vanvliet – trombone, Joey Shanahan – keyboards, Jean-Francois Ouellet – saxophone, Wesley Louissaint – guitar) that provided upbeat music and vocalists (Marilyn Felix, Ugo Mazin, Sara Renelik) who shared their vocal talents. Line 1 is a very hard working bunch in that there were very few breaks for anyone as they all did a little of everything. There were very few performers, other than a few of the band members, who were not multi-talented. Singers danced, guitarist performed on the trampoline, a keyboardist juggled, and contortionists did aerial numbers. The choreography was excellent and despite the small stage size they were able to accomplish much. This is a talented bunch of people! It is a fun night out at less than half the price you would pay to see Cirque du Soleil, so take advantage!