Cirque is Back in Town With ‘Twas the Night Before…

After a long dark night in circus and indeed performing arts history, Santa is back on stage, and his elves and reindeer are there too, full of hype for the coming holidays. At the Chicago Theatre until December 5, you and the family can catch the Cirque du Soleil show ‘Twas the Night Before…

They last played to Chicago in 2019, selling out the house for 17 holiday shows, and this year will be just as lively as theater- and circus-starved audiences jostle for top-notch entertainment. ??I spoke to director James Hadley just before the show and asked him what it meant to the performers to return to the stage again in Chicago. He explained that when the original show launched at Chicago Theatre in November 2019, it was part of Cirque du Soleil’s efforts to engage family audiences (and to provide an introduction for youth into the world of circus). Hadley said, “It was really emotional and I think it was even more than people expected first of all because people hadn’t performed in quite a long time and they had been going through what all of us had been going through for this past year and a half. We had a run-through of the show at the head office for employees just before we left…it was a really beautiful but emotional return to the stage.”

In the new, revitalized ‘Twas the Night Before… Cirque du Soleil show, world-class circus acts parade across the stage embodying all that is beautiful about the holiday as Isabella, a slightly preoccupied teenage protagonist, and her father, who is yearning for the connection the holiday used to bring them, are wooed by the magic. Enfolded in this highly entertaining performance are selected sections of the classic poem The Night Before Christmas (aka A Visit from St. Nicholas) by Clement Clarke Moore, circa 1837. The result is a classic yet tweened up Christmas special that will appeal to every age. Children will be drawn to the lights, the color, the Christmas theme, and especially to the curiously au currant elf-like dancers (Jenna Beltran, Kalila Hermant, Samuel Moore, Carlo Darang, Shannon Kelly, and Bianca Vallar from the Kinjaz dance crew) cranking out TikTokish dance memes, and the adults will be charmed by the classic Christmas carols and breathtaking circus.

The international cast really brings the sparkle, from a candyland-inspired acrobatic table slide (starring Quentin Greco, Jean-Marc Giese, Roberto Alvarez, Sekou Camara, Lucas Gabriel Morales Bravo), to a rollerskating power couple (Holler Zavatta Bogino, Kimberly Zavatta Bogino) straight out of the disco era and a juggling St. Nick figure (the versatile ball juggler Miguel Gigosos Ronda), they kept the ground action moving along to a soundtrack of classic carols. The protagonist Isabella is played by the talented Alicia Beaudoin herself on acro bike.

Meanwhile, the aerial acts mesmerized with the poignancy every fan has come to expect from Cirque du Soleil performances–and also captured attention with the uniqueness of each performer’s act. Starting the show with an aerial straps act were Karyna Konchakivska and Suren Bozyan resembling nordic icicle elves in a whirl of snow. There was a hair-hanging act performed by Danila Vieira Bim that inspires sighs, as well as an equally moving aerial lamp act that can chase away winter blues by Alexis Vigneault. Another interesting aerial device is the hotel valet trapeze that was masterfully navigated by Masha Terentieva–a starlet who helps the protagonist understand what gratitude feels like by her own ungrateful behavior.

In the end, the story wraps up with a little extra Christmas poetry, some good vibes and a rollicking good time provided by a golden troupe of hoop-diving reindeer (Quentin Greco, Jean-Marc Giese, Roberto Alvarez, Sekou Camara, Lucas Gabriel Morales Bravo, and Evan Tomlinson Weintraub).

{ SOURCE: Third Coast Review }