Cirque du Soleil raised the stakes for everyone in the biz--even the tradition-bound Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. But few circuses have risen to Cirque du Soleil's challenge as strongly as the folks at Cirque Ingenieux, based in the United States. Like its Montreal-based competitor, Cirque Ingenieux provides an evening of circus fun packaged in a respectable arts wrapper. And Cirque Ingenieux has one advantage over Cirque du Soleil--a vaudevillian intimacy. Its show, which follows a young girl on an Alice in Wonderland-like tour of the circus, is designed to be performed not under the big top but on a proscenium stage. Still, much of the show's charm was lost when Cirque Ingenieux performed at the elephantine Rosemont Theatre last year. But at a fine old palace like the Shubert, one can't help feeling close to the performers and completely dazzled by Jonathan Bixby's costumes and the many death-defying acts that make up this very European American circus. Shubert Theatre, 22 W. Monroe, 312-902-1500. Through March 28: Thursday, 7:30 PM; Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM; Sunday, 1:30 PM. $22-$50. --Jack Helbig
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): The Imaginaires uncredited still.