EmptyVenue: Broadway Theatre, New York (Through Aug. 24)
Theatrical juggernaut Cirque du Soleil has no right to complain about the all too similarly titled "Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy," which has now landed on the Great White Way for a summer engagement after touring the country extensively. After all, they could have devised a smaller-scale, Broadway-ready production long before the arrival of this effort from the Florida-based Cirque Prods. and apparently chose not to.
Like its predecessors, "Cirque Dreams" employs traditional circus acts and gussies them up with a highly theatrical presentation, including lavish scenic effects, wall-to-wall music and extensive choreography. The results are pleasant family entertainment that should reasonably please the massive tourist influx that hits New York every summer.
Created and directed by Neil Goldberg, the show, as its title suggests, is set in a verdant jungle environment featuring giant trees, mushrooms and a panoply of garishly costumed "creatures" who perform various physical stunts, including contorting lizards, juggling frogs, balancing giraffes and flying butterflies.
The fast-paced assemblage of acts is accompanied by a nonstop, pre-taped musical score, augmented by songs performed by "Mother Nature" vocalist Jill Diane and "Soultree" violinist Jared Burnett.
As is usual for these sorts of things, there is a story line of sorts, involving a pair of highly athletic "Jungleboys" (Zachary Carooll, Glenn Rogers) who are comically introduced into the exotic goings-on.
But it's really all about the acts, mainly performed by circus artists from the Ukraine and Russia (what do they put in the water over there?) as well as a smattering from the U.S. and Canada. The truly awesome displays of high-flying, juggling, balancing, wire-walking, acrobatics, contortion, jump-roping and numerous other skills easily compensate for the production's often cheesy and derivative elements.
Creator-director: Neil Goldberg. Executive producers: Alan Wasser, Allan Williams. Choreographer: Tara Jeanne Vallee. Music-lyrics: Jill Winters. Costume designers: Cirque Prods., Lenora Taylor, Santiago Rojo. Scenic designer: Jon Craine. Lighting designer: Kate Johnston. Sound designer: Craig Cassidy. Presented by A+ Theatricals, Broadway Across America, Cirque Prods., Adam Troy Epstein, Fox Associates, New Space Entertainment, Albert Nocciolino, Providence Performing Arts Center and Theater League. Creator/Director: Neil Goldberg. Executive producers: Alan Wasser, Allan Williams. Choreographer: Tara Jeanne Vallee. Music & Lyrics: Jill Winters. Additional music: David Scott, Keith Heffner, Billy Paul Williams, Tony Aliperti, Lance Conque, Christopher Pati. Costume designers: Cirque Productions, Lenora Taylor, Santiago Rojo. Act designers: Neil Goldberg, Heather Hoffman, Iouri Klepatsky. Scenic designer: Jon Craine. Lighting designer: Kate Johnston. Sound designer: Craig Cassidy.