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Issue Date: December 2010

Dazed and Amused

A holiday spectacle arrives at the Palace Theatre.
Amber Matheson

The faithful Christmas tree stands watch over the holiday season. It serves as a constant reminder of festivities shared with family and friends, capturing memories via shiny, decorative heirlooms passed down through generations and new ornaments ready to create memories.

There's a slice of life in each of those treasured ornaments, to be sure. And it's into that well of imagination that a new holiday stage production dives headfirst.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a musical, dance and contortion extravaganza, is the brainchild of director and creator Neil Goldberg. The action centers around a 24-foot-tall Christmas tree laden with ornaments that do much, much more than just hang on a bough and look pretty.

"The entire cast is portraying different ornaments that one by one come off and come to life," Goldberg explains.

Thirty performers from around the world will meet on PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre stage for eight performances Dec. 14-19. They'll portray gingerbread men and penguins, snowmen and toy soldiers, flipping, flying, contorting and skating, re-enacting their own vision of who they are as an ornament, and eventually racing through 200 costumes before the show's finale. The show combines original music with holiday classics such as "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Jingle Bell Rock" and "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."

"The 'Cirque' genre in general, that word creates an impression in people's minds," Goldberg says. "They're fascinated by creativity and the human body, and the physicality of people and what their minds and bodies can really do."

Goldberg first brought Holidaze to life last season for a national tour, as a new flight of fancy for families. "There hasn't been, traditionally, a lot of new holiday celebratory stage entertainment," he explains. "It's a visual feast for the eyes. We use the acrobatics and the aerial work and contortion and juggling as elements to facilitate each scene that tells a story."

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