There’s a good chance that Cirque Dreams Holidaze, now at PlayhouseSquare, will delight most younger kids, since they don’t get a chance to see circus acts every day of the year. And the costumes are certainly dazzling. But if you’re older and have a few circuses under your belt, most of this show will feel achingly familiar and sometimes even a tad boring.
To be clear, this Cirque isn’t part of the Cirque de Soleil franchise that has earned much praise over the years. This is a touring show produced by Cirque Productions, created and directed by Neil Goldberg, and it doesn’t have quite the pizzazz of the other, more famous troupe.
Most of the acts, which include a lot of handstands and jumping and prancing, are performed with skill. They just don’t dazzle. Indeed, some of the routines recall some old bits on The Ed Sullivan Show (yes, there’s a spinning-plates-on-poles routine; yes, there’s a guy building a tower of chairs, and yes, there’s a roller skating couple doing their thing on a small round platform). That’s some pretty ancient material to be dredging up.
Other acts just never go anywhere. The tightrope walker has only one trick: bouncing from his butt to his feet (over and over again) and doing maybe one or two flips. Some other folks jump a big multi-colored rope. But, hey, they’re just jumping rope.
This is supposedly tied together by three performers who do all the solo singing. Unfortunately, one of them (Jared Troilo) has about a two-note range while the other two (Kelly Pekar and Emily Matheson) have at least a couple okay moments. As for the music, the few familiar Christmas tunes are droned repetitively while the lesser known ditties are a bit strange melodically and only occasionally interesting lyrically.
As is true with most circuses, the aerial acts are the stars and so they are here, with the aerialists creating some lovely movement as they spin on straps, a rope and flowing fabric. And a clever act featuring two matched contortionists (Bing Long and Jun Long) has some spark.
It all happens on a static set filled with large inflatable toys that never really changes. So if you know some little ones who haven’t seen many circuses, this is can be a treat. For others, this show is pretty much Cirquelling the drain.
Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Through January 19 at the Palace Theatre,
PlayhouseSquare, 1615 Euclid Avenue, 218-795-7000