Tour Theater Review: CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE (Chicago Theatre)

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by Lawrence Bommer on December 13, 2018

in Theater-Chicago


Neil Goldberg has a fine formula for his fantastic franchise. His eleven Cirque Dreams spectaculars feature ever-changing processions of dazzling celebrants strutting to seasonal songs, amazing acrobatics, kaleidoscopic set pieces, and a charming touch of audience participation. With five troupes performing in 40 venues, Cirque Dreams Holidaze is a very busy extravaganza with 20 acts and over 300 costumes in little more than two hours. The spirit of the season finds urgency from every scene in Holidaze, but while the franchise continues touring, this seasonal romp has only eight performances in Chicago through December 16.

Even the capacious Chicago Theatre stage cannot confine this ebullient green-and-red canvas, a presentation of Jam Theatricals. The cast of thirty “Ornaments” cheerfully assume iconic Yule manifestations — elves, candles, fashionistas, toy soldiers, ice queens, angels, humbugs, confections, penguins, soaring ribbons, snow persons, holiday trains, ice statuettes, as well as Santa and Elvis.

A gingerbread pair — surrogate son and dad — do endless flips with perfect landings. We alternately marvel at rope-skipping reindeer, plate-spinning diablo soldiers, sash-twirling aerialists, roller-skaters, awesomely double-jointed contortionists on balance beams, tight rope-walkers, rapid-fire costume changers, tumblers, jugglers, and balancers of elaborate crystal trays.

Five audience members are brought on stage to create a silly symphony of surprisingly intricate bell-ringing. Overall the mercurially mind-blowing pageant delivers a constantly charming cavalcade, with little left to the imagination and not a second of wasted stage time that doesn’t yield unexpected delights in an ever-evolving winter wonderland.

It would be Scrooge-like to dismiss this sparkling and eye-popping panoply as tacky, hokey or cloying: It’s just too good-hearted in its eagerness to please not to win over the sourest Grinch. Besides, the circus acts, discovered by Goldberg in Russia, The Ukraine, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Latvia, Spain, Italy, and even the U.S.A., are, unarguably, top-billing, center-ring sensations. Yes, Cirque Dreams Holidaze probably is a much of a muchness, but its sheer excess is just what dreams are made of anyway. It’s impossible to overdose on contagious magic and merry make-believe.

photos courtesy of Cirque Productions

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Cirque Productions
Chicago Theatre, 175 North State St.
ends on December 16, 2018
for tickets, call 800.745.3000 or visit Ticketmaster
for more info, visit Cirque Productions

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

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