Saturday, December 12, 2015

Reviewed in Brief: Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Flashing lights, enormous trees, oversized edibles, jump roping reindeer... all this and more can be found at the Orpheum Theatre during Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a briefly playing, entirely Christmas centered circus show. 

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
For anyone who has seen a Cirque or just a circus show in the last 10 years, many favorite tricks are returning here. There are ribbons, the acrobats on a swing, feats of balance, dancers with impressive costume changes, topsy turvey contortionists, and unfortunately cheesy pop singers.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
Two things were of major note for this performance:

  1. There are no safety apparati of any kind. Zero nets, zero harnesses, etc. For some, this can be thrilling to watch; I found it relatively terrifying, but it's extremely impressive nonetheless. These performers are in it to win it and have to go at it with complete confidence, or they'll never make it out alive (literally). 
  2. The music is astonishingly bad. One of the Cirque hallmarks has always been that the music felt otherworldly, Enya-esque, and transported you to another place. I understand that for a holiday show they have to incorporate holiday music, but the corny delivery and strange arrangements are totally cringe-worthy and at times really detract from the amazing feats of the acrobats. Next time, I'd stick with a canned orchestral tape and call it a day. 

Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
There are some really great vignettes in Cirque, especially (and surprisingly) those on the ground. My personal two favorites were a deceptively difficult dance performance with reindeer jumping rope and double dutch. The speed with which they move is completely amazing, they looked like they were having a blast, and the routine is HARD. It definitely was hip hop inspired but grew a life of its own, and was really fun to watch.

A routine involving audience members playing sleigh bells and a "conductor" was also unexpectedly hilarious. The conductor clearly knew how to get a rise out of any audience member, and managed to parody the players while still not going over the line into mean-ness territory. Everyone had a great time and it was one of the few pieces that felt truly holiday inspired.
Photo courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust.
I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming impression of darkness behind this show. Maybe it's a lack of Vitamin D, maybe it's the presence of clowns, but whatever it was, there was something eerily macabre about this performance. You can totally get a peppy, happy Christmas feeling out of it if you want, but I think those most inclined to enjoy Holidaze are the Nightmare Before Christmas and Slayer fans of the world.

If you're going to go, get tickets fast - tonight is the second and last performance. More information and tickets can be found by clicking on this link.