Hear that whistle blowing? That’s your sign to take a seat for Seattle Repertory Theatre’s latest production, Passengers, a show that combines circus acrobatics with theatrical storytelling against a train travel backdrop.
My 7-year-old uses every opportunity to turn cartwheels and terrify me by hanging upside down on monkey bars, so I couldn’t wait to bring her to this family-friendly show.
Passengers: Climb aboard the train
Nine members of The 7 Fingers Montreal-based theater troupe bring audience members along on a roughly 90-minute train journey as they perform spectacular acrobatic feats. Staged as a series of vignettes, this show leans more avante-garde than traditional circus, yet more accessible to families than traditional plays.
As any parent who’s braved the rails with kids knows, the people-watching is unmatched. Most cast members have a scene designed to showcase their particular specialty, but there are no divas here. Each vignette emphasizes interconnectedness and teamwork as castmates support and play off each other.
Meliejade Tremblay-Bouchard, the queen of hula hoops, contorted her body to twirl multiple hoops as fellow acrobats leaped through them. I felt even more engaged with Santiago Rivera Laugerud’s impressive juggling act when fellow cast members teased him and cheered him on. Expect your heart to race as the acrobats’ rapid drops from aerial silks, straps and Chinese poles bring them this close to the ground before they spring back up again.
My daughter’s favorite vignette will surprise no one — Nella Niva and Mandi Orozco teamed up on a trapeze, showcasing strength and grace with Niva catching Orozco as she flitted between stage and sky.
Passengers: Family-friendly, to a point
Most Seattle Rep shows explore mature themes geared towards adults, so why the shift towards a more family-friendly season? Lexi Clements, Director of Marketing, Sales, & Patron Experience (and pre-K parent), says it was a happy accident. “Our season planning committee chose shows they thought were artistically exciting and timely. It was only after the full slate came together that we recognized the theme of multigenerational appeal running through the fall half of our season.”
There’s a lot for families to love here. Cast members hail from a variety of international backgrounds and many started circus training as children, showcasing the beauty of bringing cultures together and the rewards of honing a craft with hard work and dedication. Although the show doesn’t have a distinct plot (or an intermission!), the fast pacing and death-defying acrobatic feats kept us engaged.
Seattle Rep recommends the production for ages 7 and up — it strikes me as a perfect show for kids who are aging out of nearby Seattle Children’s Theatre plays, but aren’t quite ready for adult productions. My daughter and I enjoyed the preview performance so much that we’re resurrecting hula hoops from storage — you know, just in case The 7 Fingers need any understudies!
Know before you go
Dates: Passengers runs from September 22 – October 15, 2023. Multiple matinee performances are available. Check Seattle Rep’s website for post-show panels and ASL-interpreted performances.
Cost: Tickets range from $23 to $108 per person. All attendees require a ticket.
Deanna Martinez, Director of Arts Engagement (and parent of high schoolers) offers some tips for families preparing to attend:
- Try to set expectations around how kids can help ensure everyone in the audience can enjoy the show. That means saving conversations for before or afterward and trying to stay in their seat through the 90-minute performance. Booster cushions are available near the theater entrance.
- If children cannot sit long, consider selecting seats near an aisle or exit. If they need a break, you can continue watching the show on our lobby’s video monitors.
- We also have fidget kits for checkout and a wellness room where overstimulated kids (or adults) can take a break.
- Since the show doesn’t have an intermission, use the restroom and grab a snack at the concession stand in advance.