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Fly Boys (and Girls)

Chinese gymnasts jazz up old routines for new generation of audiences.

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The Peking Acrobats resurrect four daredevil stunts tonight, when their 34-city North American tour spirals into Playhouse Square for a two-hour show. Set against a backdrop of a Vegas-style light show, the feats range from a human merry-go-round rotating on a bamboo pole to the 25-foot-high Tower of Chairs, in which one of the performers climbs toward the rafters, as she stacks one chair upon another. "There are some acts we did 30 years ago that haven't been back onstage until now," says Don Hughes, the South African showman who discovered the 28-member troupe in China and introduced it to Western audiences in 1973. "They are definitely new to this generation."Just ask George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and other Hollywood glitterati at last year's premiere of Ocean's Thirteen. As the A-listers strolled into the theater, the ensemble performed outside in tribute to fellow member Qin Shaobo, who played Clooney's freakishly flexible "grease man," the Amazing Yen, in the flick. "Being on the red carpet is incredible. Twenty thousand eyes are on you," says Hughes. "It's great to see these stars in awe of what these artists can do." The show starts at 7:30 tonight at the Palace Theatre, 1501 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $10 to $30. Call 216-771-8403 or visit www.playhousesquare.com.
Thu., Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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