There’s always an air of mystery and excitement when Cirque du Soleil sets up shop in Chicago. In part it’s the simple thrill of the enormous blue-and-yellow big top, the hum of power generators inside the deep blue semitrailers that circle the tent. But most alluring is the knowledge that the whole thing is fleeting–a mobile universe that will soon pack its bags and be gone. Like Cirque du Soleil’s past two shows, the new Saltimbanco has no animal acts, Keystone Kops, or sequined beauties. This Quebec-based circus is something else. It’s rock-and-roll commedia dell’arte magic. It’s contortionists, acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists, clowns, and tightrope walkers. And it’s amazing. Just like you always dreamt the circus would be: a little eerie, a little sexy, and sometimes irritatingly silly. If you’ve ever thought about running away and joining the circus, avoid this show. All your friends will wonder where you went once the tent’s pulled down and the caravan has slipped out of town, seemingly through a crack in the night. Cityfront Center, McClurg Court and Illinois Street across Ogden Slip from North Pier Chicago, 755-1255. Opens Wednesday, July 28, 7 PM. Open run: Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 6 and 9 PM; Saturdays, 4:30 and 8:30 PM; Sundays, 1 and 5 PM; Friday, July 30, 7:30 PM only. $12.50-$35.50; $6-$23.50 for children.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Al Seib.