This weekend you can go on a voyage through Italy without even leaving town.

Cirque Italia, in its debut swing through Mankato, will perform its “A Voyage Through Italy” today through Sunday under a big top tent set up in the River Hills Mall Parking lot near JCPenney.

“You’re going to see this majestic ship that is going to escort you through the towns of Italy along with our clown and one of our entertainers,” said Samantha Kulinski, an aerialist and face painter for the circus.

The performance combines circus acts mixed with Italian history and culture.

“You’ll see acts such as Romeo and Juliet, gladiators, someone representing the eruption of [Mount Vesuvius in] Pompeii, a Venetian style performance, traditional Italian style dancing—all with a modern spin on it and with a circus spin, of course,” Kulinski said.

One of the most unique aspects of the show is the travelling water stage that helps to emphasize the acts throughout the show. They say it’s the only traveling water stage in the U.S.

“What really sets Cirque Italia apart from all of the other shows, like I said, is we have a 35,000-gallon stage that shoots out water fountains, and we have a rain curtain that falls around the performers,” said Victor Abadilla, a juggler and member of the circus’s tent crew.

The show is designed to hold your attention from beginning to end.

“It is a high-quality show that is also very intimate,” Kulinski said. “A lot of times what happens is that high-quality, high-budget shows are also very large so you’re in a stadium really far away from everything, and there’s three rings so it’s really hard to pay attention to what’s happening. Here it’s a European-style circus so there’s one ring and the furthest seat is less than 40 feet from the stage so there’s really no bad seat in the house.”

The performers say the show will keep people on the edge of their seats.

“They can expect a wide variety of death-defying circus acts and acts that emphasize skill, beauty and grace,” said Morgaine Rosenthal, an aerialist and unit manager. “It’s high-level entertainment coming to your hometown. It’s something you just don’t see every day.”

The show is meant for all ages and is family-friendly. The circus is offering a deal in two sections in which one child can attend for free with the purchase of an adult ticket.

“Our reviews say that children love it and that parents and grandparents alike all love the show, and I think that is something that is really unique. It’s truly an all-ages show. There’s something for everyone,” Kulinski said.

Performers of different backgrounds and from all over the world will be in this show. “We have people from Brazil, from Mexico, from Bulgaria, from here, from the U.S. — from all over. It’s interesting how we all communicate with each other because there’s Italian, there’s Portuguese, Spanish, English, Bulgarian, Romanian — it’s really interesting how we all come together,” Abadilla said.

Robb Murray is the Features Editor for The Free Press. He can be reached at 344-6386 or rmurray@mankatofreepress.com. Follow Robb on Twitter @FreePressRobb

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Features Editor, Mankato Free Press Associate Editor, Mankato Magazine