R-rated Paranormal Cirque isn't for families, or the faint of heart
Paranormal Cirque is neither for families nor for the faint of heart.
In fact, the Halloween-themed, European-style circus running Oct. 14-24 under a sprawling tent in Aurora's Premium Outlets parking lot prohibits anyone younger than 12 from attending.
But if you crave cirque-inspired entertainment with a touch of the macabre, this R-rated Cirque Italia production could be the seasonal show for you.
Established in 2012 by Manuel Rebecchi, the Italian entertainment company initially produced family-friendly aquatic spectaculars until 2018 when Cirque Italia introduced the darker-themed Paranormal Cirque.
According to general manager and contortionist Benjamin Holland, producers wanted to deliver a touring cirque-style show for people who love Halloween, scary movies and horror.
"In the U.S. nothing fit that kind of niche," said Holland, a Washington, D.C., native who's been with the company for two years. "There wasn't anything here that filled that gap."
The bet paid off, he said. "People love it."
Performers include aerialists, magicians, contortionists, acrobats, clowns and others, but so far, no jugglers.
"We'll probably never have jugglers here because it doesn't feel scary enough," Holland said.
Set in the underworld, Paranormal Cirque examines the evils of humanity, specifically sins such as wrath, lust and greed, among others, Holland said, adding the circus artists portray characters "doomed to eternal (expletive) and desire."
Signature acts include a high-wire performance incorporating a motorcycle that Holland says is so intense he can't bear to watch.
To get audience members' blood pumping, Paranormal Cirque added a preshow haunted house in an effort to take "things bigger and better than they were before," said Holland, who describes the show as "an escape from day-to-day craziness."
"There really is no replacement for live entertainment," he said. "People want to go out and be a part of something ... something they can reach out and touch if they wanted to."
Typically, audiences respond with gasps and expressions of disbelief, he said.
"I'm a contortionist," he said. "Every time I do the tricks and people say 'Oh God,' that's when I know it's working."
Attendance bears that out. Holland says shows usually sell out, even the socially distanced shows performed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I really hope people come out (to Aurora) and have a good time," he said. "I promise you're going to love it."
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When: Oct. 14-24
Where: Under the white and black big top at Chicago Premium Outlets, 1650 Premium Outlet Blvd., Aurora
Tickets: $10-$50. For mature audiences. No one younger than 13 admitted. Patrons 13 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult. (941) 704-8572 or paranormalcirque.com/tickets
COVID-19 precautions: Limited, socially distanced seating and mandatory masks required