I am the first to admit that I am not a fan of acrobatics and other related feats performed by gymnasts. It simply seems too painful, too dangerous, to enjoy even as a spectator. I must say, however, that Cirque Dreams Holidaze, the latest show brought in to the Stanley Theatre in Utica by the Broadway Theatre League, left me dazzled and in pure awe.
Holidaze is a part- musical cabaret, part- acrobatic show that combines to form an overall pleasing performance. With the holidays quickly approaching and somber news rampant on the news, it was really invigorating to see such a great show to get me in the holiday spirit. What is the theme of Holidaze? That's hard to say, because the show is all over the place with different Christmas songs, both secular and religious, as well as a plethora of assorted acrobatic acts. It seems that the show was all about inspiring and reviving the Christmas spirit, the holiday wonder inside of the viewer that often is lost as life goes on. With such a wide variety of acts (balancing demonstrations and tosses using feet instead of hands, daring roller skating stunts, and dynamic jump-roping skits, for example), the show restores the novelty and the vivacious bounds of energy that accompanies the winter season.
I found it very interesting that the Broadway Theatre League chose to add this show to their 2013-14 schedule, because it is very unlike any traditional musical. With no discernible plot, Holidaze is an anomaly; is it truly "theatre"? Regardless of what the show is, the important aspects to consider are the show's strengths. As previously mentioned, the acrobatics were jaw-dropping. Everyone has seen a circus, but no one has seen such feats of acrobatism, such astonishing stunts of the human body and mind, onstage in Utica. There were countless instances during the show at which I gasped, yelled, and applauded the performers for their audacity to attempt such amazing routines. I heard countless "how do they do that?" 's, and "wow!" 's when the applause wasn't deafening. The performers definitely deserve the praise, as I am sure that it took innumerable hours of rehearsal and honing of skills to put on such a show.
As this was a quasi-musical, it is important that I mention the vocal performances. The vocalists were on par, if not above, the talent level of their acrobat cohorts. I was blown away on the last song, "O Holy Night", when the lead female singer gave such a touching and powerfully emotive rendition of the oft-sung tune. Throughout the show, the vocalists help to add another dimension of awe and fun to the performance, and I would have sorely missed their additions to the show had they not been present. The only points of negative critique I have for the music experience are that microphones were simply not loud enough to carry the sound through the whole theatre, and that the show utilized backing tracks instead of a live pit. However, these two shortcomings did not detract from the show's overall experience.
Some technical aspects of the show that really stood out to me were the lighting and the costuming. The lighting was bold, avant-garde, and energetic; bright, flashing lights helped to convey the overall ebullient tone of the show. Costumes were a highlight of Holidaze! Vibrant colors and shimmering material certainly elicit from the theatre-goer a sense of wonder. Too many shows forgo costuming expenses to cut costs, and I am happy to say that Holidaze did not shortchange this tenet of the theatre experience.
Overall, I am pleased that I had the opportunity to attend Cirque Dreams Holidaze courtesy of the Broadway Theatre League. I highly recommend this show to everyone and anyone who is not a total Scrooge... Actually, the show might even cure Ebeneezer of his "Bah Humbug" mood!