Warning: Don't Try These Amazing 'Cirque' Acts At Home

By Dana Casadei

Twice a week I struggle through a basic yoga class trying to perfect the plank and downward facing dog. Some of my classmates are more advanced, making their bodies look far more graceful than mine, which shakes like the ground during a tornado. After seeing the flexibility, and sheer strength, of those in "Cirque Dreams Holidaze" at the Fox Theatre, my more advanced yoga classmates are not going to seem nearly as impressive next week.

Where to begin to describe the brainchild of director and creator Neil Goldberg? Well, "Cirque Dreams Holidaze" is sort of like the sideshows that were so famous for the "world's strongest men" and bearded ladies. Except this show has a holiday theme, with the ornaments coming alive and songs that would put Santa in a jolly mood.

Goldberg has found an international cast of 30 artists, ranging from the good ole' U.S.A to Australia, and each member comes with a unique specialty. You never know what in the world is going to happen when members of his dynamite team walk on stage. There are some talents that are much more exciting to watch than others, but they'll all keep you entertained, at least for a moment or two.

"Cool As Ice" was probably the most impressive bit, and that's saying something. Not only did the Queen of Ice (Kelli Koloszar) get to show off her vocal chops, but the two icemen, Qiang Xie and Jian Zhang, really steal the show. Xie and Zhang work together, with one climbing on the other, doing balancing acts that will make you fall silent as you watch in awe.

"Symphony of Bells," featuring Maestro (Anatoliy Yeniy, who also standouts as a Wobbly Penguin in Act II) and five audiences members is the show's comedy at its best.

Many of the songs - with music and lyrics by Jill Winters and David Scott, with additional music by Lance Conque and Tony Aliperti - will get your toes tapping with classics like "Holy Night," (the evening's vocal standout). But it's the costumes, created by Cirque Productions' Lenora Nikitin and Santiago Rogo that will send you head-first into the land of sugar plum fairies. And make you wish that you could pull off wearing their gingerbread house hats or one of the gorgeous leotards.

This is a show that knows its audience well, mainly that there will be a lot of children with short attention spans. Each "scene" is quick, keeping the show going at a brisk pace. At times, though, there is so much going on that it's hard to focus on one thing. It will make you feel like you've stuffed yourself with far too much Who-pudding and rare Who-roast-beast.

Is this traditional theater? Not even close. There's not really a story, and some of the artists could easily be Olympic athletes instead. But during a time of year when time and patience can get the best of us, "Cirque Dream Holidaze" is a nice break to forget about the shopping list that keeps growing and where you'll have your in-laws stay.


'Cirque Dreams Holidaze'

Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Daily through Dec. 7. 2 hours, 10 minutes. $19-69. 313-471-6611. http://www.olympiaentertainment.com

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