Beyond is like nothing you’ve ever seen before in a Los Angeles theater—a spectacular blend of glitz, glamour and feathers galore, Paris via Las Vegas transported to NoHo, replete with statuesque sequined dancing showgirls, aerialists soaring above the stage, gorgeous costumes, and did I mention feathers?

Billing itself as a “Leap from Dream to Reality” where “French Cabaret meets the Mystère of Cirque,” Beyond is the brainchild of Aurélien Roulin, a handsome, multitalented young French dancer-acrobat-aerialist-director-choreographer-producer. (How’s that for a mouthful?) Though the resulting confection is a good deal more Folies Bergère than Cirque Du Soleil, Beyond provides the kind of showy pizzazz one rarely sees outside Europe or Vegas, and certainly not in relatively staid North Hollywood.

Styled as a series of dream sequences unfolding inside the head of Le Rêveur (a cute Alex David), Beyond’s dozen production numbers range from splashy dance sequences featuring its entire cast of seventeen to ahh-inspiring specialty acts to a thrilling vocal salute to Edith Piaf.

Though admittedly there’s a certain air of camp to the proceeding (as when the mostly blonde female ensemble appear as Oriental Maidens, Bollywood Beauties, or Jungle Princesses), in the end spectacle and talent trump camp … and then some.

A sextet of imaginative choreographers (Desiree Castro, David Estrada, Kavita Rao, Yusuf Nasir, Roulin, and Sunny Soriano) receive credit for Beyond’s many impressive dance sequences, which run the gamut from 1950s rock-and-roll to the French Can-Can and beyond. 


The dance ensemble do terrific work one and all. Rachel Bowman, David, Arthur Davis III, Christine Ivy, Liz LeGrande, David Matz, Nasir, Brittany O’Connor, Jill Otte, Michael Pena, Ripley Rader, Rao, Sarah Romanowsky, Roulin, Jennifer Shields, and assistant director Soriano perform with precision and panache, sporting hundreds of spangle and feather-bedecked costumes, a number of which include feather “backpacks” the like of which may never have been seen in L.A.

Beyond includes several breathtaking aerialist numbers, with Roulin and Soriano executing gorgeous, graceful moves while suspended high above the El Portal stage and audience.  Contortionist Ganchimeg Oyunchimeg makes for an exquisite human pretzel with a strength as impressive as is her grace. Davis, Pena, and Roulin perform athletic acrobatic moves, and Matz not only rotates inside the “cyr wheel” but zips around the stage atop a unicycle.  

Then there’s vocalist Rader, gorgeous to listen to (and to look at) singing a medley of chansons made famous by “La Merveilleuse Piaf.”


Beyond’s dazzling array of costumes are by Olivier Pascal and Frédéric Couture (Les Oiseaux du Paradis, Paris, France), and Roulin (U.S.) and Kavita Rao (India). Head costumer, Los Angeles branch, is Mikiko Nagao.  The show’s Vegas-style makeup is the work of Cool Benson. Prerecorded original music is by Emmanuel Moire and Les Oiseaux du Paradis.  Castro serves as production director and stage manager.

L.A. theatergoers in search of “un spectacle hors de l’ordinaire” (i.e. a show that’s decidedly out of the ordinary) need no longer go beyond our city limits to find one.  Through August 1st, there is Beyond, right in our NoHo backyard. 

El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood.

–Steven Stanley
July 6, 2010

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