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Thursday, December 13 Entertainment

Seasonal spectacle ‘Cirque Dreams Holidaze’ a family-pleaser at Oakdale Dec. 14-16

Wallingford folks will be saying, “The circus is in town” the weekend of Dec. 14-16. Not the old elephant-and-bearded lady kind either.

Talented performers will be singing, juggling, tight-rope walking, dancing, balancing and flying around the stage at Oakdale Theatre for four shows of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” — all wrapped in a bow of holiday themes and tunes.

“Holidaze” is in its 11th touring season, actually, says Cirque Dreams Founder Neil Goldberg in a phone chat from Florida.

“When I started... it was an idea I had to celebrate the holiday season, which is a short six-week window from mid-November until the end of the year,” says Goldberg. “And the show has grown so spectactularly and by such demand, this year we actually have five (touring) companies performing simultaneously... all here in the United States.”

Long Island-raised Goldberg says his family would travel to New York each holiday season to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Families like to be be entertained during this season, notes Goldberg, and he thinks this show is becoming a holiday stage spectacle for many.

As the product of a textiles company family, a young Goldberg started out dressing city store windows for fun and a few dollars. Fifty years later, he’s still very involved with the 300-plus costumes in this show, as well as so many other details.

More Information

Oakdale Theatre, 95 S. Turnpike Road, Wallingford. Dec. 14-16, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 & 7 Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. $69-$29 plus fees. 203-265-1501. Oakdale.com

“It’s a passion of mine...,” he said of the colorful costumes. “I was exposed to that at a very, very young age. And I truly believe that a costume tells a story as much as a musical note or as much as a painted piece of scenery...”

Goldberg has created more than a dozen cirque shows in 26 years, including “Cirque Dreams Revealed,” which ran at Mohegan Sun in March. (There are eight of his shows running at this time.) His inventive productions have played on Broadway and the Grand Ole Opry, not to mention cruise ships and theme parks.

Wait, how the heck do you find talent to staff five versions of this show, much less all the other Cirque Dreams productions? Goldberg says it has gotten a bit easier.

“Twenty-five years ago, I could have been talking to you and I could have told you I just got back from visiting the state school of contortion in Mongolia and then hopping over to Beijing to have meetings with the Beijing Acrobatics Association. These days, with social media, everything is accessible. ... Our casting department receives no less than 50 inquiries from the most amazingly unique artists... a week.”

Most of the touring circus shows that people know are by Cirque du Soleil of Montreal. Florida-based Cirque Dreams stood out as a U.S. alternative until four months ago when (as part of its parent group VStar Entertainment) it was sold to industry leader Cirque du Soleil.

Just as well, perhaps. People know the cirque brand, but Goldberg’s holiday version boosts spirits and “puts a smile on people’s faces,” the impresario says.

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“And it really is a celebration of the holiday season from Hanukkah to Christmas to New Year’s...,” Goldberg says. “We don’t pretend we’re like a book musical. The show is stylized like a Broadway show but it’s (centered) around amazing cirque and performance artistry from all over the world. What folks are going to see are 20 scenes in a two-hour, two-act show with an intermission. And every scene recreates the celebration of something different, whether it’s the North Pole with Santa or Hanukkah candles floating up in the air or it’s angels flying out over the audience.”

jamarante@nhregister.com; @Joeammo on Twitter

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