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Theater Review (Waterbury, CT): Cirque Dreams Illumination

Combining the visually stunning Palace Theater in Waterbury with the dazzling spectacle that is Cirque Dreams Illumination made for a truly magical event in the heart of Connecticut this past weekend. Cirque Dreams never failed to amuse, astound, and amaze with its unique blend of illusion, acrobatics, and dance.

Created and directed by Neil Goldberg, Cirque Dreams Illumination combines the European style of cirque performance artistry with the antics of the American circus and the glitz and glitter of Broadway. What makes this production unique is that it is all set against an urban backdrop and features ordinary characters that audiences can relate to: electricians, painters, musicians, service men, train engineers and porters, street dancers, a news reporter narrator, and even a vagabond take the stage and soar beyond their everyday heights to take us on a delightful and imaginative journey.

There is no real storyline to follow – the news reporter narrator set the scenes through song, which were sometimes hard to understand. However, the narration did not really matter. The true magic of the evening was in the performances by the international cast, with their daring feats of aerial acrobatics, comedy, contortions, strength, and balance. The intricately choreographed numbers were a delight to watch, truly proving that there is nothing more beautiful than the sight of bodies in motion. When those bodies are trained and honed to perfection, daring balancing acts on high wires or on paint cans atop chairs – and even simple dance moves and acrobatics across a stage – become works of art.

Of course, even among this talented troupe, there were highlights, including a group of Mongolian aerialists performing in and through cubes raised high above the stage, and a beautifully sensual dance/aerialist number featuring a leggy chorine and a drenched muscle-man (Jean Chiasson from Canada) dipping himself in a tub and then soaring high overhead on a strap for amazing feats of acrobatics. Other highlights included David Poznanter rolling around the stage in a giant ring, and a number called “Accelerate” featuring an aerialist in what looked liked a spinning gyroscope.

The comic antics of Martin Lamberti from the U.S.A. also were part of the evening’s highlights. He played the Vagabond, a key comic character who mimed his way throughout various acts in the show and who was featured as the director of “Right to Remain Silent,” a comedic number using members of the audience as actors in a silent film. The Vagabond directs using only a whistle and body language, which had the entire audience, as well as his actors, in stitches.

One of the show’s surprises came in the form of Robert Muraine, the popper who first gained national attention during Season 4 of the TV show, So You Think You Can Dance. Robert’s pop and lock dance style complements the contortionist style of the cirque show, seamlessly connecting the show’s acrobatics with dance. Muraine’s expertise and performance added to the excellence of the production.

Cirque Dreams Illumination played the Palace for only three shows ending on January 16th. I highly recommend that you try to catch the tour when it comes to your town. This theatrical event is truly a feast for the eyes and will delight audiences of all ages.

About CindyC

Cindy is a Connecticut writer and member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. She has had many changes in her life, but one thing has always remained the same: her life-long love of theater.