Arts and Entertainment

Cirque Dreams Holidaze is loud, jaw-dropping and really entertaining

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

It’s safe to say that “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” is like nothing you’ve seen before. Part fever dream, part glitzy revue, part European carnival, the show mesmerized a nearly full house Friday afternoon at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.

No real storyline exists, although it begins with some holiday ornaments coming to life. What happens next is a production that relies heavily on the three Vs of entertainment: Vegas, vaudeville and variety. Glittery costumes, a bit of slapstick, some song-and-dance numbers, and oh, the variety acts. Balancing, juggling, spinning, stilt-walking, tumbling, quick-change artistry, silks routines.

A male contortionist elicited screams from the audience when he flipped his leg behind his back and up toward his shoulder. Those silks artists created a similar sensation when the young woman stood on the outstretched arm of her companion as they spun 15 or 20 feet above the stage.

Plenty of audience sounds were heard throughout the show — the kinds of ooohhhs and aaahhhs and “Whoa!” noises people make when they’re shocked or rocked. The elementary-schooler seated behind me kept repeating “Wow!” and “How did they DO that?”

A great number of children were in attendance, some of them very young children — but if any of them were complaining of boredom, they couldn’t be heard over the music.

About that music: It was a little too loud, even in the good-sized auditorium, and the vocalists were hard to understand at times as they sang a few traditional holiday tunes and some songs written for the show.

Not that it mattered, really; the music was mostly background noise, or a backdrop for the acrobats and jugglers. At times it had the slightly macabre vibe heard in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” soundtrack: faintly sinister, but all in good fun.

Only five of the 30 performers are from the United States. The others hail from Russia, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Venezuela, the United Kingdom, Moldova, Italy, Hungary and the Ukraine. Among them, the performers were reported to have worn 300 costumes. This claim is believable.

It’s safe to bring the small fry, but children over the age of 6 will probably get more out of the production than toddlers would. Explain to your kids beforehand that there’s no beginning, middle or end, and no single storyline or point to the show. It exists to entertain.

In fact, “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” was a lot like being at the circus, minus the animal cruelty. Unless, of course, you consider the plight of grown men and women dressing like rope-jumping reindeer or somersaulting gingerbread men. Hey, it’s a living.

CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE is presented at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Show times are 11 a.m. and 3 and 8 p.m. Dec. 28, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29. Tickets are $48.50 to $113.50, available at the box office and at CenterTix. (907-263-2787)

Donna Freedman

Freelance writer Donna Freedman is a veteran Alaska journalist who has written for the Anchorage Daily News and many other publications. She blogs about money and midlife at DonnaFreedman.com.

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