Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review by Devin Kilpatrick of RFA

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!

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review by Ashley Brenon of VVS

Last Saturday I went to see another great Broadway Theatre League of Utica show. Cirque Dreams Holidaze features an international cast of 30 amazing professional acrobats, dancers, singers, and jump ropers. Of course, I was very excited, I had never seen a Cirque production before, but I have definitely loved the circus as a kid. My favorite act ways always the aerial ballerinas, so I really hoped there would be an aerial ballet act in the show.
                  The show was completely decked out- lights, giant inflatable nutcrackers- the stage was never bare. In fact, during each section of the show, there were not just the featured performers, but singers and other cast members helping with the scene. The show started with an impressive acrobat, just a little girl, no older than ten year old, spinning and contorting 20 feet off the stage. I was baffled at how talented and flexible the little girl was.
                My favorite act was definitely “Holy Night”, where two flying angels performed an aerial ballet routine using two white silks. As the soprano singer accompanied their beautiful dance, the entire audience was transported to a somber winter wonderland. The angels gracefully glided through the air and landed into each other’s arms. This act definitely rekindled my interest in ballet and dance in general.
                The show was a perfect way to get in the Holiday mood. The spectacular is complete with tons of Holiday tunes sung by three performers in eye-catching costumes throughout the show. I recommend this show to everyone, because it is a truly spectacular show.

                Thanks to the Broadway Theatre League of Utica and The Bank of Utica for such an amazing opportunity to see and meet the cast of this production.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review by Adelaide Zoller of Clinton

On Saturday, November 16th I saw the "Cirque Dreams Holidaze" show at the Stanley Theatre in Utica. This show dazzled with every kind of astonishing act from acrobatics to unbelievable balancing to mesmerizing jump rope. The show flowed impeccably from one act to another, all surrounding a common theme of Christmas. Performers of all different backgrounds, ages and talents graced the stage to involve the audience in a jaw dropping holiday spectacle that was engaging and wildly entertaining. These unbelievable acts were often accompanied by mediocre carolers who distracted from the beautiful acts occurring onstage. Despite that, this show can provide avid entertainment for any person of any age. Thank you to the Bank of Utica for making shows like this possible. #BTLYAP

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review By Erin Donovan of New Hartford

Who knew the Stanley Theatre’s stage could be home to 10 year-old acrobats, balancing penguins, jugglers, and ice-skaters? I certainly did not! The cast of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” gave a breath-taking performance during their season’s opening show in Utica. From the moment the curtain opened, you could not take your eyes off the stage without the risk of missing something extraordinary! Every second of the show and every inch of the stage were dedicated to creating an exciting and rare experience for the audience. The colors, the costumes and the props all aided the cast in a spectacular performance that, for many, is something you can only see “once in a lifetime.” The “oohs” and the “aahs” from the audience only helped to prove how incredibly talented this cast truly was. (However, there were a few stunts that caused the whole audience to clutch on their arm-rests in anxiety!) One minute you would see a cast member jump-roping in a reindeer costume and a few moments later they would be a wobbling penguin or a dancing candy cane! If there could only be one show that could get the world excited for the holidays, it would be, without a doubt, “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.” The singer’s had amazing vocals, the acrobats had incredible flexibility, the juggler had extreme intensity and, above all, the entire cast gave off a welcoming and joyous vibe. The audience could tell how dedicated this cast truly was and how excited they were to perform. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to see such a high-spirited, nerve-wrecking and fun show thanks to the Bank of Utica. As a community, we are so lucky that the Broadway Theatre League of Utica can bring in shows such as “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.”  So many thanks to the cast of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze,” the Bank of Utica, and the Broadway Theatre League of Utica for a show I will never forget! @broadwayutica #btl

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review by Rylee Powers of Notre Dame

Imagine the set pieces and costumes of a Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular, coupled with the best of the best circus feats that defy all laws of physics, as well as a few unexpected acts, strung together with a beautifully composed and, at times, techno-esque, score of holiday inspired music, and you may be on your way to picturing the wonder and enchantment of Cirque Dreams Holidaze. I had the pleasure of viewing this show on Saturday night, and I must say if anyone in the audience was not already in the holiday spirit, they could not have possibly left the Stanley that night with anything but carols in their heads and the joy of the holidays in their hearts. Now on its fifth year touring, this show is like a present, wrapped in glittery paper and topped with a huge bow, bursting with magic and just begging to be opened, and even Scrooge himself would be unable to leave without a smile. The international cast of Cirque Dreams Holidaze takes circus acts to an entirely unprecedented level of pure talent and sheer beauty. These incredibly gifted and dedicated performers flipped, kicked, and flied through a series of seemingly endless blink-and-you-might-miss-something scenes. Each one varies, with some leaning more towards humor and delight while others elicited collective gasps of wonderment and suspense. Every movement made by the aerialists and contortionists was a true work of art. Holidaze allows audiences to experience wobbling, spinning penguins, dancing puppets, gingerbread men flipping though the air, bouncing, soaring reindeer, jugglers in candy stripes, twirling ice skaters, and so much more. This show was without a single dull moment throughout its entirety. Audience participation is even included in one portion, where unsuspecting members are invited to join the cast onstage and create a symphony of music using classic holiday bells, much to the delight of both the audience and the Bell Maestro. Without ruining the magic of the show, I will say that the finale number is breathtakingly beautiful, and is sure to bring tears to the eyes of many audience members. Every moment of the night felt like tearing open shiny present after shiny present, and reaching under the tree to still find more. I would like to send a special thanks to The Bank of Utica for their contributions that make the Broadway Theatre League (@broadwayutica) and Youth Ambassador Program (#BTLYAP) a possibility and such a success, and I look forward to the remainder of the Broadway Theatre League Season!