‘Toruk’ has landed 

James Camer­on’s block­buster film ‘Avatar’ serves as the in­spir­a­tion of this tour­ing Cirque du Soleil pro­duc­tion.

Provided by Cirque Du Soleil

Eliza­beth Brown Gagnon is a Texas nat­ive who began gym­nastics and dance at age 7, per­formed in loc­al theat­er through child­hood, then be­came a col­lege cheer­lead­er.

All of that is serving Gagnon well as she per­forms in “Tor­uk - The First Flight,” a North Amer­ic­an tour­ing pro­duc­tion of Cirque du Soleil.

“It comes in­to use a lot,” she said.

Tor­uk is mak­ing its Phil­adelphia premiere through Sunday, March 12, at the Wells Fargo Cen­ter.

The show is in­spired by James Camer­on’s re­cord-break­ing 2009 fantasy/sci­ence fic­tion movie “Avatar.”

“Our show is a pre­quel to the film,” Gagnon said in a phone in­ter­view from Clev­e­land, where “Tor­uk” played be­fore Phil­adelphia.

There are 40 artists in the cast — con­sist­ing of one act­or, one sing­er, one per­cus­sion­ist, one kite spe­cial­ist, one boom­er­ang spe­cial­ist, one con­tor­tion­ist, six pup­pet­eers and 28 ac­robats.

The stage is 85-by-162 feet. Twenty-five semi-trucks are needed to trans­port all of the on-stage and be­hind-the-scenes equip­ment. Forty video pro­ject­ors are in use.

“It’s a really large show. It takes up the whole hockey rink,” Gagnon, who will head to Hart­ford, Conn. and Dayton, Ohio for shows after the Phil­adelphia run.

The show mixes visu­als, pup­petry and stage­craft with a cine­mat­ic score. It takes place on the moon of Pan­dora, thou­sands of years be­fore the events de­pic­ted in Avatar and be­fore any hu­mans set foot on Pan­dora.

The show fol­lows the story of three young Na’vi adults and the first flight of the great Tor­uk creature that rules the Pan­doran sky with its 40-foot wing­span. It is nar­rated by a Na’vi storyteller.

Large-scale ef­fects in­clude an earth­quake, a starry sky, ocean waves and a vol­cano erup­tion.

To bring audi­ence in­volve­ment to a new level, Cirque du Soleil has launched an app. Gagnon en­cour­ages all guests to down­load the app.

“It helps the whole audi­ence get im­mersed in the show,” she said.

Gagnon plays one of the Na’vi, a race of ex­tra­ter­restri­al hu­manoids who in­hab­it Pan­dora. They are about 10 feet tall, with long tails, poin­ted ears, tri­an­gu­lar faces, flat noses, golden eyes and eight fin­gers and eight toes.

Gagnon and the oth­er Na’vi speak in a lan­guage in­ven­ted by USC lin­guist­ics pro­fess­or Paul From­mer.

“It’s really ex­cit­ing to play,” she said.

Gagnon de­scribed the show as be­ing for every­one, from kids to seni­or cit­izens.

“It’s def­in­itely an im­mers­ive ex­per­i­ence,” she said.

Gagnon will be com­ing to Phil­adelphia for the first time. She’s look­ing to do some tour­ing, and also plans to check out some loc­al cof­fee shops and yoga stu­di­os.

“I’m really ex­cited to see the city,” she said. “It’s ex­cit­ing to ex­plore each city.”

The re­main­ing shows are:  Fri­day at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.; Sat­urday at 4 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 and 5 p.m.

“Tor­uk - The First Flight”
When:
Through March 12 
Where: Wells Fargo Cen­ter, 3601 S. Broad St. 
Tick­ets: $30-$110 

For more in­form­a­tion, go to cirque­dusoleil.com/tor­uk. 


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