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A CurtainUp Review
Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy
This spectacularly costumed, cleverly conceived and splendidly executed family-friendly circus-styled entertainment has found a home for the next 8 weeks on Broadway. Designed as a touring show, it is sure to please as many tourists as it will regular theatergoers willing to temporarily suspend their need for more sophisticated diversions during the hot summer months ahead.
Although there are some similarities to the Cirque du Soleil's fantastical style of presentation, this show can stand on its own distinctive merits. Here is a terrifically varied array of circus acts performed with skill and bravado. No need for real animals, as the company of 28 artists that include aerialists, acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, tumblers, dancers, musicians and singers are consigned for transmogrification into the animal and insect kingdoms through the artistry of costume designers Lenora Taylor and Santiago Rojo.
Creator-director Neil Goldberg hasn't necessarily devised a plot, but there is a through-line in which a young adventurer (Marcello Balestracci) is whisked into a dream-like jungle and gradually becomes an exceedingly eager and participant in the various disciplines he sees being performed. This adds an amusing touch to many of the acts. Among the more astounding is Ruslan Dmytruk, who appears to be the most talented frog of them all as he bounces a dozen or more balls while standing on a toad stool surrounded by a bevy of croakers. A quartet of slithering lizards become intricately entwined in huge hoops, and a pair of romantically inclined butterflies with beautifully hued wings (Sergey Parshin and Naomi Sampson) soar in breathtaking configurations.
Day becomes night in Act II, as the costumes take on a phosphorescent glow under the lighting artistry of Kate Johnston. Bumble bees, flowers and plants become a part of the choreographed pageantry (by Tara Jeanne Valee). Vladimir Dovgan and Anatoliy Yeniy prove that giraffes are quite the experts on the teeter board and six muscular tigers do some astounding balancing. Of questionable artistic merit is the strident singing by Jill Diane of some rather icky songs by Jill Winters. And a somewhat overcommitted violinist (Jared Burnett) screeches away in Slavic style apparently unable to unnerve or distract any of the brilliant artists.
Apparently a law suit initiated by Canadian-based Cirque du Soleil to restrain Cirque Productions from using Cirque in their title failed. The court deemed the word cirque was generic. Because there is insufficient rake in the orchestra floor, it will be difficult for small children to see. Bring along a cushion or get seats in the mezzanine. Otherwise, there is nothing that could be called generic about this delightful and dazzling show.
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Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide