Magic, illusion, vaudeville in ‘Aurelia’s Oratorio’


Audiences sure to wonder ‘How’d they do that?’

Figuratively born in a trunk, Aurelia Thierree spent her childhood on the stage. She performed with her parents, Jean-Baptiste Thierree and Victoria Thierree Chaplin, who created the world-renowned Cirque Imaginaire and Cirque Invisible. With her own theatrical piece, “Aurelia’s Oratorio,” Thierree brings a blend of vaudeville, magic, illusion and acrobatics to La Jolla Playhouse from Feb. 3-28.

In addition to her early exposure to an art form that’s truly unique, Aurelia and her brother James (a writer, director and actor) learned most of their skills from their mother, Victoria.

Victoria Thierree Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin’s daughter) studied ballet and music in Switzerland. When she met Jean-Baptiste, she discovered they shared a passion to create a more intimate approach to the circus. Their productions have entertained audiences worldwide.

“Her parents were part of the evolution of circus artists and their shows were more centered on the performer,” said Shirley Fishman, Playhouse dramaturg. “Their movements and acrobatics were particular only to them. They appeared at the Playhouse in 1995 and ‘97, and our patrons found them very inspiring.”

“Aurelia’s Oratorio” is a co-creation of Thierree and her mother. Thierree Chaplin directed the show and created the costumes.

From the moment the curtain opens, Thierree, along with actor/acrobat Jaime Martinez, will astound the audience. The pair performs a show that’s been called, “top-notch family entertainment, inventive with fluid movement, funny and pushing the boundaries of normal theater.”

Martinez is a founding member of The Parsons Dance Company and Mark Dendy Dance & Performance. He has been a resident teacher at SUNY Purchase, The Juilliard School, and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He has staged works by David Parsons the Ballet du Rhin, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Carte Blanche Dance Company of Norway, Ballet National

de Nancy, and the Pennsylvania, New York City and Milwaukee Ballets, among others.

“The show unfolds through individual vignettes that take the audience on a journey and each one sets its own tone,” Fishman said. “Sometimes the piece is funny or whimsical, poignant or surprising. The illusions Thierree performs leave everyone wondering how she did them.”

Thierree has worked with Milos Forman, Coline Serreau and Jacques Baratier, and she has toured with The Tiger Lillies Circus. She writes that it was “medieval drawings that depict worlds upside down and inside out,” that became her inspiration for “Aurelia’s Oratorio.”

‘Aurelia’s Oratorio’

  • Performances: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, Feb. 3-28
  • Where: La Jolla Playhouse’s Mandell Weiss Theatre, UCSD
  • Tickets: $25-45; (858) 550-1010,