It may be Thanksgiving week, but Christmas is already in full swing at the Long Center. With Cirque Dreams Holidaze, the Long Center is alive with jugglers, acrobats, illusionists, dancers, and a healthy dose of Christmas cheer.
The show, created and directed by Neil Goldberg, has a simple enough premise. For two hours and twenty minutes, we watch as the Christmas tree ornaments come to life and frolic in the spirit of the season. It’s a fun and whimsical theme to showcase the incredible talents of this international cast, and it allows for some spectacular, visually stunning costumes by Lenora Nikitan and Santiago Rojo, a colorful and childlike set by Jon Craine, and some gorgeous lighting by Brad Haynes.
With about twenty unique circus acts, this show has plenty of mystifying and daring stunts to keep young and old entertained. Some highlights include a pair of roller skaters and their death defying lifts, an acrobatic Santa and his young assistant, a quartet of Reindeer whose reindeer games involve some intricate jump rope tricks and a duo of quick change artists who perform some of the wildest quick changes imaginable. Every single act is outstanding, baffling, and chock full of stupefying stunts that Cirque Dreams’s competitors aren’t even attempting.
Still, the show does have a couple of faults. While it features some well-known Christmas tunes like “O Holy Night,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “Winter Wonderland,” the plentiful original tunes by Jill Winters and David Scott aren’t nearly as memorable. At times it was hard to make out the lyrics at all, but that is in large part due to some of the microphone balancing issues at the Long Center on opening night. There are some small staging issues as well, particularly Goldberg’s propensity to have other festively clothed characters traverse the stage while an act is going on. They may be cute (it’s hard not to like penguins), but they distract from the main event. It’s the theatrical equivalent of those pesky bottom-of-screen ads that are seen during your favorite TV show.
Still, the strengths of Cirque Dreams Holidaze greatly outweigh the weaknesses. This is a show that everyone will enjoy, children and adults alike. It’s colorful, festive, imaginative, inventive, and thoroughly entertaining. While they may not be as well-known as Cirque du Soleil or Ringling Bros, Cirque Dreams is certainly just as strong, and Holidaze rivals The Rockettes’ Radio City Christmas Spectacular in terms of production quality and entertainment value.
If you make it out to the Long Center, prepare to be holidazzled.
Run time: 2 hours and 20 minutes including one 20 minute intermission
CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE plays the Long Center for the Performing Arts now thru Sunday, November 25th. Performances are 7:30pm on 11/21, 11/23 and 11/24 and 2pm on 11/21, 11/23, 11/24, and 11/25. Tickets are $29-$69 for adults and $22.75-$45.25 for kids 18 and under. For tickets and information, visit www.thelongcenter.org.