Yes, the vermin have finally arrived in Santa Monica. Now, before you shudder, please be aware we're talking about the charming new Cirque du Soleil show about the world of insects. This latest Cirque show may hew to many of the standard elements of the company's tried formula of whimsy married to traditional circus production numbers, but only an entomophobe would cavil with the lovely (and often multilimbed) costumes, joyful clowning and dazzling acrobatics that make you gape. These are not those bugs that suck blood or burrow into your ears — they're happy, family-friendly insects that leap about in Spandex, dance from trapezes and ride unicycles on high wires on their chins. Writer-director-choreographer Deborah Colker's production delivers the goods, with the insectoid theme underscoring the idea that the performers appear to be able to accomplish physical feats that they'd have to be at least half grasshopper to do. A group of Chinese acrobats, dressed as red ants, juggle gigantic plastic kiwi fruits (and each other) with only their feet. A pair of gymnasts embody mating butterflies, fluttering up and down a pair of scarves in a manner that doesn't seem human. And a group of acrobats, dressed in golden flea-like carapaces, perform deft feats on a trapeze. A wonderful circus that's ideal for adult and larvae alike. Under the Big Top at the Santa Monica Pier, 1550 Pacific Coast Hwy., Santa Monica; through March 25. For performance schedule, see

Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m. Starts: Jan. 20. Continues through March 25, 2012

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