Entertainment :: Theatre

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

by Jenny Block
Contributor
Saturday Dec 22, 2012
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The acrobats of ’Cirque Dreams Holidaze’
The acrobats of ’Cirque Dreams Holidaze’  

"Cirque Dreams Holidaze" is not "Cirque du Soleil," at all. The sets are tacky. The costumes are cheesy. The songs are lame. The music is awful. The singing is exceptionally mediocre. The choreography is amateur.

In other words, it’s low-budget and painful.

Now, if it’s for little kids, it’s great; fantastical even. In a mall, with gleeful kids gathered around, this is the spectacular of spectaculars. But if this is supposed to be for an all-around audience, as much for adults as for kids, it’s pretty bad.

The same handful of people dance around each of the "acts," most of which are mediocre at best. There’s much ado about nothing at all. Lots of "ta dah" this and "clap for me" that over and over and over. But aside from that you’ve got a bit of a sideshow. It’s hard not to feel sorry for the performers.

There was a little girl who was quite the little flipper. She was incredibly strong, incredibly cute and very talented. And there was one bit where one of the male performers got members of the audience to play the bells. At one point he flirted mercilessly with one of the male audience members chosen to play the bells and that is almost worth the price of admission -- almost.

Other than that you have two people roller skating on a platform, a guy climbing a ladder, a juggler, a hula hooper ...you get the idea.

There are two very talented girls performing the aerial hoop and some feats of strength and balance that your average bear can’t do. But a couple of strong men (and women) does not a full-scale show make.

There are two very talented girls performing the aerial hoop and some feats of strength and balance that your average bear can’t do.

Bottom line is that you have a handful of talented acts and a couple of not ready for prime-time players and what you’re left with is a low-rent holiday hoop de do that would kill at a Mall of America Holiday Kids’ Fest. (If there is one. If there isn’t, there should be). What you don’t have is enough of a heavy hitter for this venue or the audience it typically attracts.

Theater is all about context. As this was billed, it’s a bomb. In another venue, in the children’s theater genre, it could really shine. I can already imagine the sugar plums dancing in toddler and school-aged children’s heads. In fact, the tiny ones in the parking lot after the show looked thrilled. The adults were just shaking their heads either in dismay or disbelief.

Just as an aside, barring one singer, the two other African Americans in the show are gingerbread men, which really read strangely (read inappropriate) onstage.

Aside from the horrific design sensibility, or rather lack thereof, there is also the pure sloppiness of the show: ill-fitting costumes, poor spacing, broken tree props and the like. It’s details like that either make or break a show, moving it from the amateur to the professional.

Even the theme of the show itself is sloppy. There’s something in the program about the ornaments cutting loose. But the tree is on-stage, smaller than the massive set pieces and bigger than the performers that are "the ornaments" one is to assume. None of it makes sense.

Everything had a million elements to it and not in a good way. Picture this if you will, massive, blow-up set pieces, a man on a small stage juggling, four cast members entering the stage and singing and "dancing," lamé costumes and flowery headpieces, all while cascades of elevator-style holiday music play, some with strange sounds of children’s voices coming through.

There is much better holiday fare being offered in the Dallas area, Texas Ballet Theater’s classic "Nutcracker" and Dallas Theater Center’s "The Christmas Carol," for example. This "Dreams" thing is a bit of a nightmare.

"Cirque Dreams Holidaze" runs through Dec. 23 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, 2403 Flora Street in Dallas. For info or tickets, call 214-880-0202 or visit www.attpac.org

Jenny Block is a Dallas based freelance writer and the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Press, June 2008). Block’s work has appeared in Cosmopolitan (Germany), USA Today, American Way, BeE, bRILLIANT, the Dallas Morning News, D, Pointe, and Virginia Living, as well as on huffingtonpost.com, yourtango.com, and ellegirl.com. You can also find her work in the books "It’s a Girl" (Seal Press, March 2006, ed. Andrea J. Buchanan) and "One Big Happy Family" (Riverhead Press, February 2009, Rebecca Walker, ed.).

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