The North Carolina Symphony’s presentation of the Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular, conducted by David Glover and performed on Dec. 18th and 19th in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts’ Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh, played to a nearly full house. The short version of this review: the music was spectacular, the acrobatic feats bordered on unbelievable, and the show was not lacking in humor.
The symphony began the show with a medley of Christmas favorites. Enter three of Santa’s beautiful, blonde, shapely helpers who performed some simple dance routines. All three would return later to dazzle us with amazing aerial performances.
Next we met “Bucky, The Bad Elf” — our emcee for the evening — who came to the stage from among the audience, apologizing for being late. His well-meaning nerdy-clownish-bumbling persona would keep us entertained between the skilled, daring acts of the cirque performers. And he eventually showcased his own talent by balancing a huge bowl on an ever-growing pole and by magically lighting a Christmas tree. He performed these acts with the help of a young “audience volunteer” who wowed us with his discipline and skill as he showcased an amazing talent of his own.
Neither the program nor the website supplies the names of the performers, but we were able to catch a few names as they were announced.
First up was Simon Aristotle, a “man on a stand” who constructed ever-taller platforms on which to balance himself; his “building blocks” included metal cylinders. Each level that he added made his perch more precarious, and still he was able to perform tricks with hoops. Remarkable!
Next was a contortionist who performed seemingly impossible bends. She eventually shared the stage with an aerialist who performed gravity-defying stunts 30 or so feet above the stage on the silks.
They were followed by Vivianne Espagne, who — dressed as an angel — performed on a giant metal ring high above center stage.
Multiple acts involved synchronized aerial feats on the silks, sometimes side-by-side and sometimes one-above-the-other. All were simply amazing!
There was one act that literally took Kurt’s breath away. One performer, 50 feet or more above the stage, suspended herself with one foot wrapped in the silk and the other planted on a metal pole as she held the ends of two trapeze cables. Her partner performed on the trapeze, going so far as to suspend herself with her feet bent across the bar. Spellbound by the trapeze performer, we had to remind ourselves that her partner’s ability to hold and stabilize the trapeze was every bit as amazing!
After the intermission, we were treated to a hoop-performer; she did nearly impossible magic with a staggering number of hula hoops. She was followed by more nimble aerialists, including some high-speed spinning and twirling.
Note: none of these acts involved a safety net!
At the curtain call, we were amazed by how few performers there actually were!
The symphony provided musical accompaniment for the cirque acts. Christmas favorites included: “Joy to the World,””O Little Town of Bethlehem,””O Holy Night,”and “Silent Night.” The symphony also wowed us with works by such masters as Pachelbel, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Schwartz.
Cirque Musica includes two vocalists — one male and one female — both with clear, rich voices. The audience very much enjoyed their renditions of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “The Christmas Song,” “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and “Winter Wonderland,” among others.
Cirque Musica also has a violin soloist. Concerning her final number: we must confess that this is the first time we have ever even heard of a violinist who performs while suspended from the silks!
Pam’s response to the show: “Now this totally got me in the Christmas spirit!”
CIRQUE MUSICA HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR (North Carolina Symphony, Dec. 18 and 19 in Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh).
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/user/CirqueMusica.
Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular (family-friendly holiday entertainment event): http://www.cirquemusica.com/holiday-spectacular (official web page).
Cirque Musica (TCG Entertainment entertainment troupe): http://www.cirquemusica.com/ (official website), http://www.ncsymphony.org/events/artist-bio.cfm?artist=546 (N.C. Symphony bio), https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cirque-Musica/206283939442231 (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/cirquemusica (Twitter page).
[RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
EDITOR’S NOTE: Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.