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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Broadway


  A scene from Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy

First things first. Despite the misleading title, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy is not a Cirque du Soleil production. Created and directed by Neil Goldberg, this family-friendly Fantasy does have the kinds of aerialists, contortionists, acrobats, and jugglers one would see in a Cirque du Soleil spectacle. Unfortunately, Goldberg's variation also features costumes and lighting that are so gaudy the show looks like a Saturday-morning cartoon and music that is so tinny sounding it sounds like it's coming from a backstage Casio keyboard.

On the plus side, Cirque Dreams is undeniably colorful and fast-paced. (The two-hour show ends rather abruptly just before the two-hour mark.) Because it's aimed at kids, perhaps it doesn't have to be artistically sophisticated. Children will probably like the assorted jungle animals-lizards, frogs, giraffes, bees, a pink unicorn etc.-more than I did. The dancing frogs are pretty cute. But even kids won't be thrilled when Mother Nature (Jill DianeJ) serenades the emus with an insipid song about Personality. Jill Winters wrote the music, which ranges from drab ballads to generic disco. In addition to the loud canned music, a half-man/half-tree named Soultree (Jared Burnett) plays the violin on stage.

There isn't really a plot, but the main character is a young Adventurer (Marcello Balestracci) who finds himself in the jungle among the animals. Balestracci is amiable enough, and his talents include doing backflips and spinning large cubes and pyramids over his head. The aerialists, contortionists, and acrobats all perform impressive feats. My favorites were the soaring aerial birds (Mongolia's Buyankhishig Ganbaatar and Erdenesuvd Ganbaatar). They're so good that Goldberg should try to fit their names on the marquee! A second-act highlight was the incredible balancing act performed by Ukraine's Vladimir Dovgan and Moldova's Anatolly Yeniy Anatoliy Yeniy.

Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy has already had a successful national tour, and perhaps it will be a hit on Broadway (where it's scheduled to run through August 24). While the performers are first-rate, the music and production design are pretty tacky. Most kids will enjoy the show, but many adults will look at their watches every time Mother Nature starts crooning another drippy song to the animals.


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