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Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy

This circus-like entertainment is mostly recommended for young theatergoers or adults who haven't seen this kind of show before. logo
A scene from
Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy
(© Carol Rosegg)
Despite what you might be thinking, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy doesn't come to us from the Cirque du Soleil folks; it emanates from Fort Lauderdale-based Cirque Productions. But artistic director Neil Goldberg -- who created and directed this long-touring show and has now carted it to Broadway -- clearly knows the ins-and-outs of the formula: Connect a series of circus acts with a loose theme that allows set and costume designers to go to town.

The result is that if you have seen a Cirque du Soleil show, you've sort of seen this one. If you haven't, you might as well catch this outing, especially if you have kids who enjoy gazing wide-eyed from their seats for two relatively short and manageable acts.

To keep the audience's eyes popping, the show's set and costume designers have indeed worked their imaginations above and beyond the call of duty. Jon Craine's lush jungle-green set features huge painted trees with thick vines wrapping around them, while the costumes by Lenora Taylor and Santiago Rojo look as if the Missoni family and the Pucci clan were challenged to see who could produce the more garish fashion parade, and the result was a tie.

The show itself involves a central figure through whose popping eyes the audience is supposed to view the proceedings -- a strapping lad called the adventurer (Marcello Balestracci), who shows up on the stage all innocent and raring to go. He is guided around by a flower-tressed woman (Jill Diane) who's identified as Mother Nature and tootles a series of generic, New Agey songs (credited to Jill Winters) full of sentiments like "Nature will set you free -- your passion will set you far apart."

Otherwise, Cirque Dreams contains the usual assortment of contortionists, jugglers, aerialists, balancers, and people who spin themselves inside large metal wheels -- many of whom have marvelous names like Uranmandakh Amarsanaa, Iryna Dmytruk, and Buyankshishig Ganbaatar. They're all agile as seals frolicking in a pool, but press me for a favorite act, and I'd have to choose the expanding team, which included the mugging Adventurer, who jumped rainbow-hued ropes and then jumped ropes within ropes within ropes.

Another thing one might want to know about the show -- aside from the fact that the men have the biggest collection of biceps outside a New York City bodybuilders' gym -- is that the two acts are divided into "Day" and "Night." Never mind that jungles can be pretty dark places during the day with all that tangled foliage, and that the "Night" acts seem to be only slight variations of what was trotted out during "Day." Yet, while some of us may roll our eyeballs at this sort of entertainment, it's only fair to report that the woman next to me -- who had two young children in tow -- must have exclaimed "Oh, my God" nearly 20 times.

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