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Soda City Cirque presents ‘Finding Elysian’

The cast of “Finding Elysian”
The cast of “Finding Elysian” PROVIDED PHOTO

WHAT: Soda City Cirque presents “Finding Elysian”

WHERE: Conundrum Music Hall, 626 Meeting St., West Columbia

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 4-5 and Sept. 11-12

COST: $10-$50

INFO: (803) 250-1295, www.conundrum.us

This weekend, you’re in for a magical treat.

Local circus and performance artist troop Soda City Cirque is debuting “Finding Elysian” at Conundrum Music Hall. The spellbinding show will pull out all the tricks and pixie dust one performance can handle, sure to make for a fun and entertaining night.

Kendal Turner, a member of the traveling circus, plays Tess, a scientist searching for a world beyond her own. One day, a portal opens in her wallpaper, and two characters come through and steal her cat. Yes, you read that correctly.

And that’s just the beginning.

“When the curtain opens, she’s in this world full of people and characters who come from all over, but the world is in peril,” said Turner. “So she helps preserve it. Elysian represents magic that still exists. It brings a bit of fantasy to reality.”

The family-friendly show is geared toward entertaining adults and kids. Think of it like a live-action Pixar film.

“When you’re doing things that are a bit extraordinary, adults and kids can appreciate that,” said Turner. “And if you write a really smart show that kids can come and see, adults are going to appreciate it. Even if there are elements that younger kids may miss, you’re still watching people do incredibly cool things. I’ve had adults who’ve come to preview the show who have laughed and gotten the joke. Our target audience is everybody. Everybody walks away with a smile.”

The outdoor performance features everything from aerial art to acrobalance to fire performing. Turner added that all the costumes and choreography were created by the performers, sure to further the feeling that you were transported to wonderland.

“The costumes for this show are my favorite from any show we’ve ever done,” said Turner. “People spent a lot of time on them. There’s a wig in one of our acts that someone spent 15-16 hours on, and it shows. It’s fantastic. That’s the level of dedication that we’ve put into the finishing touches. Visual elements of live performance are incredibly important. So we like to do justice to our costumes so we can do justice to our acts.”

And the acts are definitely worth seeing. The 13-member company has recruited guest artists to add depth to the show’s scenery and acrobatics.

“It’s really dynamic when you have multiple people doing one thing in sync,” said Turner. “That’s something we’ve really beefed up for this show. The images we’ve been able to create are incredibly powerful. That’s going to be a big surprise.”

Turner credits the quick growth of the traveling company to each member showing and sharing skills with the others. Turner, who has a background in creative writing and theater, not only plays Tess but is also the troupe’s screenwriter.

Oh, and she happens to spit fire, acrobalance and belly dance. The latter two skills she picked up from this show.

“That’s one of the cool things about being in a group of so many diversely talented people,” she said. “It inspires you to continue learning and trying new things. This group ranges in age from 22 to 60. I think that’s amazing. It’s showing kids you can grow up to be a performer, and it can inspire adults to say they can try this if they wanted to. I really like that about our group.”

You can catch “Finding Elysian” during its run over two weekends at Conundrum. Come prepared to take a journey. Passport optional. Imagination required.

THE VIBE: The show is colorful, funny and playful – but not silly. Now, with that said, the performers do encourage the audience to come dressed in the vein of the theme of the show. So go with an open mind and be prepared to be wowed – not only by the performance, but by how much fun you’re going to have.

THE VERDICT: What better way to meet your local performing professional circus than taking in a show that literally means “finding paradise”? Take your kids to mask your excitement, or just wear a mask and fit right in with the crowd. Either way, you’re guaranteed as good a time as anyone looking for something remarkable in a world imagined where anything is possible – even magic.