Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna raises towering Big Top

amaluna big top
The big top itself is a can’t-miss sea of blue and yellow tarp. Amaluna travels in 78 trailers which carry nearly 2,000 tons of equipment. (Mark Schiele/MONTCO.Today)
By Mark Schiele
A group of nearly 100 workers tugged and pulled Friday, and in a span of less than 30 minutes, the Big Top – the centerpiece of the Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna – towered skyward on the grounds of the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.
The Big Top seats more than 2,500 people for each of a series of shows which begin July 24 and run through Aug. 25.
When it was fully erected and very visible to those traveling on Route 422, the Big Top rose 62 feet into the sky and measured 167 feet in diameter. It’s clearly the centerpiece of the production and is impossible to miss.
On hand for the kickoff festivities was Montgomery County Commissioners Vice Chairman Ken Lawrence, who was happy to see the show returning to the area for the second consecutive summer.
“We’re thrilled to have them back again,” said Lawrence, sporting a red hard hat and neon-green safety vest. “Last summer was great. They’re back, so they must have liked it, too.
“This is great for tourism here in Montgomery County. Tourism is a $1.2 billion industry in Montgomery County. Something like this brings people to the county and is also enjoyed by our local residents. It’s great.”
But Friday was just the beginning. The entire site set-up will take eight days. That not only includes the raising of the Big Top, but also the concession tents, an artistic tent, the box office, administrative offices and a kitchen. All of which are climate-controlled for comfort.
Each of the four main support masts of the Big Top measure 82-feet tall. The top itself is a can’t-miss sea of blue and yellow tarp. For transport purposes, Amaluna travels in 78 trailers which carry nearly 2,000 tons of equipment.
Then there is the show itself. It’s not a typical circus-type event. You won’t see elephants and other usual circus gimmicks.
“I love a show where women take center stage and Amaluna delivers,” said Arts Montco Director Jessica Willingham. “I was blown away by the awesome, all female band. And the acts left me on the edge of my seat, whether watching someone dive into a massive bowl of water or balance a mobile made of palm leaf ribs on her head.
“I was literally holding my breath during that act. If you want to be transported to an island governed by goddesses who will take your breath away, you have to see this show.”
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