Stephen Leatherhead is the producer of the spectacular Cirque du Ciel production ShangHi which arrives in Manchester next week and then returns to the North West via Liverpool a few weeks later. We asked Stephen for five reasons why you should go and see this popular show featuring acrobatics, trickery and illusions.



1. It's visually stunning
It’s a mix of acrobatic feats, colour, costume, lighting, music, sound – it’s a total experience. Because it’s Cirque du Ciel (circus of the sky) - there’s a lot of aerial stuff going on; dramatic silks where a girl just plunges from the gods down towards the stage, a drop of 30ft or more – just fantastic stuff. We have hoops that become planets which we project images onto – lots of aerial work which you would rarely see in a theatre.

2. The trickery
if you knew how the trick was achieved it wouldn’t be quite so impressive. It’s a great segment at the start of the show when the girls gets brought into their world, these spirit guides appear and disappear, so it’s got all those theatrical elements but the story is told very much in the Cirque du Soleil tradition. It’s circus with a story.

3. The brilliant performers
They are incredible at what they do. They are fantastically talented people. The show starts with these spirit guides encouraging the girl to do this hand dance routine; which she does for seven minutes, standing on one hand. And she’s doing these amazing splits in the air and you think she is bound to fall over, but she does it all with such poise and perfect balance it’s beautiful to watch.

4. Seeing is believing up close
Our brief was to come up with a show that we could tour round theatres. So it will have an inherent sense of theatricality and my role within that is to make the story more prominent. Also, what is special is that if you are seeing the show in a theatre you are seeing it up close, so feats look even more spectacular. If you see it at the O2 or at a big arena, in somewhere like Las Vegas, you are at a remove.

5. Escape to another world
We overlay different images of China and just as importantly feed in different noises of China. We have got mountains, landscapes, sunsets – all those ethereal things which take people to a different land and allows them to use their imagination. It takes them through the window in the girl’s bedroom into this fantasy world.


Cirque du Ciel's ShangHi arrives at the Manchester Opera House from 3 - 4 June and the Liverpool Empire from 20 - 21 June.