By: Nancy Baker Faul
The Mississippi Coast Coliseum will be transformed on April 20th to the 24th for one of the most spectacular shows you will ever have the chance to see. Alegria will bring their performers to the coast for 5 days of death-defying acts, heart-pounding thrills and seemingly impossible feats of amazement. The show is indescribable and hard to imagine if you have never seen the magical moments in person.
To get this unique show to the coast takes more than just making reservations and hopping on a plane. It takes an army of people and a very special kind of mentality to keep all the tiny details from unraveling the whole production. So what does it take to be a performer in Alegria? It takes someone with amazing talents, superior athletic abilities, a devotion to their artful craft, diligent willpower and oh yeah… you have to be able to live out of a suitcase for 48 weeks a year. That narrows the field quite a bit.
Performers are found from across the globe by professionals in casting from Montreal. The current troupe has artists from 18 countries, each with their own unique talents. When the performers are found they must go through months of training before they can actually perform in front of live audiences. Many of those chosen are athletes but not actors or artists. “These amazing people have to be taught how to wear the stage costumes, how to put on the makeup and how to act like the character they are portraying. For example, if someone is called upon to be a fluffy, red bird with graceful wings, they must learn to ‘become’ a fluffy, red bird with graceful wings. They can’t look like a big oaf in a bird costume when they get on stage. To that end, we put every performer through a special school until they are ready to go on the road,” said Sheryl-Lynne Valensky. Sheryl-Lynne is from Toronto and serves as the Artist Assistant for Alegria. “It is hard being in a different town every week and we always move quickly either by chartered plane or by bus. The schedule for the performers and staff can be grueling but I have grown to love every minute of it. The artists can work up to 12 hours or more a day perfecting their craft for the show. We do get a couple days off each week.”
Last year, Valensky spent Christmas on the road with the show in Oklahoma City and was very grateful for the talents of the catering staff that is part of the Alegria troupe. There are a total of 96 people on the tour and only 55 of them are performers. Sheryl-Lynne said, “Every athlete and artist has their own way of keeping their body fit to perform. The dancers eat lots of fruits and vegetables while the big men who have to maintain their physical strength bulk up on tons of carbs. The chefs really have their work cut out for them too since they are responsible for feeding all these people such varied and special diets every day.”
Sheryl-Lynne went on to say, “There are other daily duties that we have to consider with such an elaborate show with such one-of-a-kind costumes. There are 450 very detailed costumes in each show and all those have to be washed and cleaned. We do partner with locals to help us keep on top of the huge laundry tasks in every town. I just have to laugh when I hear someone complain about their teenager or kids changing clothes more than once a day and creating more laundry. I just shake my head and think ‘Wow! If they only knew what a real pile of laundry looked like they’d faint.’ Can you imagine cleaning feathers, sequins and intricate costumes every day? ”
You can see this ‘traditional circus with a twist’ at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum April 20-24.   Call the coliseum box office for details, (228) 594-3700.

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