December 7, 2010
The litmus test for success of a glittery, shimmery holiday extravaganza is if kids will like it. So to that end I brought my own kid barometer. Twelve years old and well acquainted with large stage productions he brings his built–in cool meter and preteen insider radar.
As the houselights dimmed and the curtain rose to reveal a stage full of Christmas lights and a thirty-foot crystal Christmas tree I watched out of the corner of my eye as my cool dude gasped, cheered, whooped, applauded wildly, “Let’s clap to the beat!” he begged, and sat on the edge of his seat breathless with anticipation and flat-out astonishment. With every new jaw-dropping act he asked, “Did you see that?” or “How did they do that?” “Yes! Wow! I don’t know!” I replied catching my breath too.
Put aside your old-fashioned notions of retro Christmas shows, here’s what you can expect to come at you in warp-speed. Performers of every stripe from five continents, spectacular juggling, tumbling and stupefying acrobatics from Chinese synchronized cyclists. Countless dazzling costume changes on sets replete with giant presents, gingerbread houses, tin soldiers and a silvery moon will leave checking your own reality. Everything is bigger than life and way, way over-the-top.
Together we marveled at a pigtailed pixie gymnast and a miniature gingerbread boy with an elastic spine who spins faster than a gyroscope on a sugar high. There are gravity-defying icemen performing one-handed human lifts, a gaggle of jump-ropers who contrive the most intricate ins and outs never seen before, a tightrope walker on a unicycle who juggles giant thimbles and a mime with a knack for conducting who has folks in the audience ringing cowbells to his silent frenzied gesticulations. And that’s not even the half of it.
Throughout there is a heart-pounding score and soaring vocals from a Ziegfeld-style ice queen, a blue angel and a razzmatazz version of Dickens replete with feisty elves. It is flat out crazy fun and full of the holiday spirit.
Producer Neil Goldberg, whose imaginative company Cirque Productions has created fantasies for major theatres, casinos and tours including the Superbowl, Disney, Busch Gardens, MGM, Caesar’s, Bally and NBC, CBS, ABC, comes off his recent success on Broadway for Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy. This show is the start of their National Tour and runs till December 12th.
For tickets phone 202 467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.