In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re just about up to our roasty chestnuts in the holiday season.
Everywhere you turn, bells are jingling, eggs are nogging and Santas are Clausing. Battalions of be-vested Salvation Army soldiers stand (or just as often these days sit) at their grocery store posts eager for your spare change. The malls (well, at least the old school, indoor malls like Flatiron Crossing) are packed with shoppers searching for the perfect gift they couldn’t find online, and the same set list of Christmas classics — from Nat King Cole and Burl Ives to the Jackson 5 and Band Aid — pours forth from every speaker in every store.
With Hanukkah intersecting with Thanksgiving this year and thus long over, all the menorahs and dreidels have been stowed away for another year — except at the Palin house where, apparently, Sarah keeps them on display for the entire month of December in a stupefyingly misguided bid for cross-cultural cachet. But Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s and the rest of their holly jolly ilk have us all in their unrelentingly cheerful grip. The once-a-year relatives are on the way. The kids are about to be home from school for the better part of a month. The Christmas tree just caught fire Hunger Games-style in the living room. You could use a break lest you become holidazed and confused.
For a couple of hours respite from all of the holiday hullabaloo, you could do a lot worse than Cirque Dreams Holidaze. Heck, if you’re one of the many who would rather stick your tongue to a frozen flag pole than endure more treacley, It’s a Wonderful Life-type fare, Holidaze isn’t just recommended; it’s essential viewing.
There are no Christmas Eve redemptions or nativity-inspired revelations here, just wall-to-wall circus spectacle showcasing a sizeable cast of extremely talented acrobats, singers, jugglers and the like hailing from all over the world.
I can’t be sure if it was a stage effect, some very unusual perfume — possibly Candy Cane by Calvin Klein — worn by the woman in front of me or just an olfactory hallucination, but as Holidaze commenced I swear I could smell peppermint. Perhaps my mind was being warped by the giant nutcrackers flanking a stage filled to brimming with festive holiday emblems?
Holidaze gets right to the deeds of derring-do with a pair of stilt-walking jugglers. If you’ve ever tried to juggle, you know that it’s not nearly as easy as it looks, and doing it on stilts seems to me about like trying to play cribbage in the nude while skiing a black diamond during a blizzard … at night. Soon thereafter, a master of the diabolo takes the stage. I’ve always felt that the diabolo was the citified, high falutin’ cousin of the Earthier, provincial devil sticks, but this artiste opened my eyes. He did things with that diabolo that seemed damn near physically impossible. For me, his performance was one of the highlights of the show.
To the strains of expected holiday tunes, some original ditties and, oddly, some classic melodies onto which new lyrics have been grafted, Holidaze rolls along presenting, among many other acts, quick change artists, synchronized jump roping (which is much cooler than it sounds and, yes, includes some Double Dutch), hoop work (of both “the man inside” and hula varieties), slacklining and, in the spirit of Festivus, feats of strength. There’s literally something for everyone in this notably retro lineup, and every performer on stage is at the top of his or her game.
If you happen to be allergic to religion, fear not, because Holidaze is about as secular as it gets. Sure, there is one routine set to “Holy Night,” but other than that it’s as if Cirque Dreams went out of its way to keep the Christ out of Christmas. The goal — and it’s one the show achieves — appears to have been to entertain and astound without the burden of messaging of any sort, and I’m betting there are scads of people out there who will appreciate that. A perfect option for children of all ages, Holidaze will enchant and delight you.