Cirque Dreams: A family-friendly head trip
We took the kids to see Cirque Dreams: Pop Goes the Rock, which has shows through Friday at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg (and Monday in Sarasota). It offers a family friendly stage show full of eye candy, laser lights and a spangled specatacle that, while not as over-the-top dazzling as Cirque du Soleil, nonetheless gets the kids' attention.
While you may be lulled into thinking anything with "cirque" in its name (which means 'circus' in French) is the offspring of Cirque du Soleil and therefore trippy adult fare, know that lawsuits have determined anyone can use the name "cirque" and it simply means European-influenced circus performers. Or, in this case a cirque-influenced stage show. Still, they go for the head trip anyway here, with wild costumes, laser lights shooting out to start up the show with I Love the Nightlife getting moms to sing along.
But where Cirque du Soleil aims for a story line with psychedelic undertones, this feels more like a series of music videos or a Broadway review on acid. There's no connective tissue, but you do get Rapper's Delight with aerial antics and a rousing I Want Candy getting the crowd to sing along and hold their breath as a child performer was bounced on the feet of an adult aerlist who had the kid on so many airborne twirls we were waiting for a candy-coated upchuck finale.
Then there's the light touches, like the magic trick of a girl dancer primping and strutting as the background singer belts out Christina Aquiliera's Beautiful and, with a flick of a scarf, she changes her black dress to a red one, another flick and it's a pink tutu and then a whoosh of an umbrella and she's in a lovely full-length white sheath -- all done in seconds right before our eyes. Color me impressed.
While parents will like that the play list is full of old friends like Sugarhill Gang, Britney Spears and Madonna, one quibble would be a 7:30 p.m. show time is kind of late for a show aimed at a family crowd. We got home at 10 p.m. and the kids seemed like they were on a sugar high. But what the heck, how often do you get to see a guy in roller skates spin a girl around his neck held on only by what looks like a dog collar?
The ticket price of $30-$69.50 is kind of high for families but that's about what you'd pay for a Disney on Ice show and I liked this WAY more than one of those shows. And a tip from my 9 year old: You are actually better off with a seat in the back because you get a better view of the laser lights coming off the stage and bouncing off the back walls.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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