Presented by Cirque Productions
Created and directed by Neil Goldberg
Associate director: Heather Hoffman
Music & lyrics by Jill Winters & David Scott
Additional music by Lance Conque, Tony Aliperti
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Boston, MA) Holidaze is a Cirque du Soleil like production. It’s a “holiday” circus show with Christmas as it’s primary focus. Token nods are thrown briefly at Hanukkah and New Years. The focus is still on Christmas. Please note: Cirque Dreams is not Cirque du Soleil. It is a production operated by company Cirque Productions, and a direct competitor of Cirque du Soleil. Cirque Productions are more… earthy.
This was a fun, but really weird show. The subversive, “worshipping of the golden calf”-like pagan elements got to be pretty hilarious. At the end of act one, a giant gingerbread cookie rose from the stage like a Greek God while the cast danced around it like bonkers Christmas fauns. Mrs. Claus gets her butt slapped by Elvis in a different number. Throughout the show cast members ride on a “holiday” choo-choo train with red headlights… That might as well be the searing eyes of Hades leading Persephone to Hell. A balancing act has a line of bent over penguins crossing back and forth across the stage like Monty Python’s Bible abusing monks. An aerialist piece set to “O Holy Night,” informs us that the night is divine because of sex, not Jesus. Like I said: weird. Subversive. Perfectly fine if Holidaze were intended to be a different show.
All of this is pretty tame compared to what can only be called an Asian fetish icicle number. The vocalist repeatedly sings about “spreading thighs,” while the extremely flexible, talented acrobats provocatively bend in thigh-high fishnets and high cut leotards. This burlesque number is in the wrong show. In theory, there’s nothing wrong with it once the racist elements are removed, but Holidaze is intended to be “family-friendly.” This sexy act is not for kids.
The vocalists are over-worked, pitchy, and still exceptional. They sing for nearly every number in the show and have to dance as well. What they do is not easy. You keep doing you, and getting your paycheck. Kids’ theatre is rough stuff.
When the acts allowed to just be; when performers were allowed to simply demonstrate their crafts without artifice, that is when Holidaze became actual art. The tumbling brothers dressed as gingerbread men, the costume changing magic act, the soldier/soldierette tumbling number, the jump roping reindeer, these acts were exceptional. These men and women are disciplined performers with great showmanship. Cirque du Soleil doesn’t add all of the extra BS to their show, and they still make lots of money. I don’t see the Cirque Dream’s need.
Holidaze is geared towards the theatre-unenthused family friendly set. It’s for people who don’t get out much, and require zip, and flash with their athletic spectacle. The artists themselves are amazing. They are the reason to attend. All of the fluffy, shiny, loud bits added to ensure Mom and Dad don’t fall asleep are forgettable. I, for one, welcome our cookie overlord.
The Shubert Theatre is now owned by the Boch Center. Heat is a luxury they no longer indulge in. Please dress warmly.
We have elected a tangerine ass-bugle bigot with scrawny hands, thin skin, and terrible hair to the office of the President. The theatre community has every reason to be scared that the national budget for the arts will be slashed. It will be. Certain republicans tend to disrespect experimental, avant-garde, or simply new art. If it challenges the white, straight, hetero status quo, they tend to be against it. New things frighten them with their difference. Belts will need to be tightened. For the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating your art despite this painful bullshit. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. Please keep fighting the good fight. – KD
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