Mall hosts Italian water circus

Cirque Italia artist Morgaine Rosenthal performs her mermaid straps act over the circus' water stage. Photo courtesy of Cirque Entertainment

WINCHESTER — Under a large white and blue tent, Cirque Italia has set up its 35,000-gallon water stage at the Apple Blossom Mall for its first shows in Winchester.

Circus owner and creator Manuel Rebecchi said he marked Winchester on his list after visiting the area two months ago and was impressed by friendly people and a clean town. The Cirque Italia tour has hit 15 other locations in Virginia in past years.

Tara McInturff, the director of mall marketing, said that this was an opportunity to host a new kind of circus in Winchester for the first time.

“It’s a unique form of entertainment that we’re very excited to have at the mall,” she said.

Ticket sales at the site in the mall parking lot near JC Penney began Tuesday morning, and the tent went up on Wednesday.

“It’s a big thing to put it together — over 8,000 pieces,” Rebecchi said.

Besides the water stage that reaches 30 feet into the air, Rebecchi said the show is a combination of unique performances by international artists.

“We use the technology of light, of the sound — a very high tech show,” he said. “You’ve got to go to Las Vegas to see something like that.”

It’s a family friendly show with an act for everyone: Rebecchi said the mermaid show is a huge hit with girls, while boys tend to enjoy the laser light show.

He said he was inspired by the high water content of the human body and wanted to create a unique and high-class show. All seating is in individual chairs, not on bleachers, and the Cirque Italia show won’t have any elephants or lions — Rebecchi believes shows that use animals for entertainment are inherently cruel.

“I prefer to leave that in the jungle,” he said.

Instead, he leaves the entertaining up to acrobatic and visual artists like the strongman duo and verticali act, which also includes some Italian-style singing.

Cirque Italia opened in 2012 and began touring in 2013, shifting its programming about every six months. Starting next year, the show will travel the country with two different touring groups.

Cirque Italia will perform multiple shows over the weekend: a 7:30 p.m. show Friday, shows at 2:30, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Rebecchi said the circus will also hold extra performances because of sold out shows. Attendees can check in with the ticket office about potential show times.

Tickets range from $10 to $50 depending on the seat location, and one free ticket for a child up to age 12 will be included with every purchase of an adult ticket on levels two and three. The on-site box office will sell tickets from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. through Sunday.

While the performances at Cirque Italia boast a distinctly Italian flair, Rebecchi – himself born and raised in Milan – said the opportunity to see such a rich and diverse show is American to the core.

“This is very unique show for every culture; this is what the United States is all about,” he said.

Find out more about Cirque Italia at http://cirqueitalia.com/.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com