JPJ or Jack opens in Delirium

"I understand we're breaking this place in tonight," said multi-culti singer Nitza. "So congratulations on your new arena."

As the opening act for tonight's big show, Nitza became the first performer in the new $130 million John Paul Jones Arena, and the first big event at the new UVA-built facility seemed to go off without a hitch tonight other than some pre- and post-show traffic. Besides the architecture and sight-lines, the main event really was supposed to be Delirium, the new performance by Cirque du Soleil, a sort of travelling circus for the artsy set.

Delirium-goer Brett Wilson liked the venue well enough– he pronounced it "vertical"– but he considered the circus "terribly disappointing."

"It was just a rock show," says Wilson, a veteran of two prior visits to Cirque du Soleil under giant tenting in Tysons Corner. "Where were the death-defying acrobatics?"

Another man found the post-show scene a little close for comfort. "The show was good, the arena was comfortable, plenty of bathrooms," says Rick Pauly. "But when the show was over it took a long time to get out, and the hallways to the exit were very crowded," says Pauly, who was sitting in lower level section F. "All I could think of was that in an emergency it would be a disaster."

However, JPJ general manager Larry Wilson says that in the event of an emergency, the staff can open additional exits and help people find them.

"I think for the most part people had a pretty good time," Wilson reports on the morning after. "As we go along, we'll get better and better."

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