My daughter Mia just turned 2 in April, so we're starting to try out more activities that require an actual attention span. And I'm not quite sure she's ready - her attention span currently seems to be about that of a flea's - but we're going to keep trying. Today, I tested her out at Cirque Shanghai, playing at Navy Pier's Skyline Stage.
First, let me say that this is a really great, intimate venue. It's not too large, it's laid out so that you can get a good view of the stage from any angle, and it's covered, which is obviously great in case of rain.
I admit I was quite concerned from the start with keeping Mia interested in the show. When things got started, with performers in beautiful, colorful costumes running down the aisles to the stage and getting right into the show, Mia was elated. The first 10 minutes for her was great - she was laughing out loud, pointing at the stage, and having a seemingly wonderful time. At the 10 minute mark, she said "I want to go home," and that was the end of her attention span (perhaps because there were no elephants at this circus, as my husband had mistakenly promised her earlier in the day.) So my husband took her outside of the stage area where she played with iPhone apps for the remainder of the show, while I stayed behind to watch with my mother-in-law.
The show has changed from a few years ago, losing the hokey narration and gimmicks between acts, which I didn't miss at all. This year, it was just act after act of daring feats, amazing acrobatics, stunning, colorful costumes and displays of superhuman strength. We saw plate spinning, tumbling through hoops, trapeze and rope acrobatics, contortions, human pyramids (and other shapes), and a balancing act that had me holding my breath as a tiny woman climbed nearly 50 feet in the air on top of a stack of chairs - that she was helping to stack.
As far as I could see, Mia was the only kid in the place whose attention span gave out so early. There were plenty of young kids at the show who were completely enthralled, and I'd say that this would be most appropriate for kids at least 3 years old.
Ticket prices are quite affordable, at $14.50 for adults and $12.50 for kids 3-12. Parking is another issue, but it's worthwhile if you can plan to make a day of it.