THESE SHINING LIVES chronicles the strength and determination of women considered expendable in their day, exploring their true story and its continued resonance. Catherine and her friends are dying, it’s true; but theirs is a story of survival in its most transcendent sense, as they refuse to allow the company that stole their health to kill their spirits—or endanger the lives of those who come after them.
On Stage Dayton
Sniffles. Uproarious laughter. Tears discretely wiped from the face. Deep sighs. And Feelings of Hopelessness. No, you’re not in high school trying to fit in….but Evan Hansen is. And my how we relate!
It’s only about 15 minutes into the Tony Award Winning Best Musical‘s Script that we see the writing on the wall. ‘Oh Sh*t…what has he done??’ We recognize it because we lived. ‘How do I fit in?’ ‘Will anyone care if I live or die?’ ‘What does it take to be seen?’ The lengths, innocently or otherwise, we will go for that sense of belonging drive Hansen’s story. The magnificent script, by Steven Levenson, is literally able to move an entire epic tale into a 2+ hour musical . It never misses a beat, loses its way or lets us rest! The show flies by!
Tackling every kind of relationship you can basically create, (mom and dad, mom and son, friend and ‘family’ friend, popular kid and nerd, daughter and mother…the list goes on) Levenson’s story weaves a strong sense of rooting for the underdog, only to realize that may not always be our best bet. Throughout the show, Evan (played masterfully by Stephen Christopher Anthony) allows us to cheer him on, embrace his faults and ultimately forgive his errors in judgment. You cannot ‘not like’ Evan. He’s silly, sweet, sarcastic and ‘sorry’ for who and what he is. Who can’t relate to that!
The story, which lends itself to many swallowed tears, finds us wrapped in a deception that we are, as the audience, somehow part of! Connor Murphy (a big cheers to Nikhil Saboo for his portrayal…) is the hero, and the demon, and the focal point and that scapegoat! Without giving away much, you will get to it quickly when Evan belts ‘For Forever.’ And with that, fate is sealed. Lump in the throat, and a squirm in the chair.
The supporting characters are stellar! They provide the gears that keep the musical moving forward…with light (Cara Elyse Harris as Alana Beck is yummy fun)…and laughs (Matthew Edward Kemp‘s Jared is the voice we need to keep the show believable…). The moms, (Kelsey Venter as Cynthia Murphy, who gets our tears going early, and Jessica Sherman as Heidi Hansen, who brings it all home later in the show) get the ball rolling with ‘Anybody Have a Map.’ You can see moms in the audience physically nodding their heads in agreement as they listen to the lyrics.
The show has magical musical moments (Music and Lyrics by Pasek and Paul)….the beloved ‘You Will be Found’ (Buy the t-shirt at the shop.)…‘Only Us’ (which features the solid Alaina Anderson as Zoe)…and the heart-wrenching ‘So Big/So Small’ (let me know if you got through that without sobbing!). It’s packed with spectacular visual effects that drive home the culture we have become…and then again, simple sets, that drive home what’s still important.
You clutch to hope throughout the musical that everything will be just fine…and in a sense, perhaps that’s possible. But Evan Hansen is ‘real.’ Sure the sets are slick and the music is, at times, a bit melodramatic, but the story is one for this society to heed. Misinformation has consequences!!!
We know it….they know it….but as we have witnessed in our own world, just keeping ‘going’…who’s keeping score? In this case the audience. The very audience, that from the outset, just wanted to say ‘Evan – you’re enough! You are enough!’ But, like Evan Hansen, we all had to learn that lesson on our own along the way!
‘Dear Evan Hansen’ plays at the Schuster Center March 8 – 13.
Go to daytonlive.org for tickets and information.
In this adaptation, four actors in an attic retell Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. Using found objects from across time (balloons, hula hoops, ribbon dancers, and more), the players create scenes of love, loss, and the ever glowing warmth of the March family hearth. Jo goes on a journey of artistic self-discovery and coming of age as she struggles to become the writer she longs to be amid the classic triumphs and troubles of Meg, Beth, Amy, and even Laurie. It is through a sense of play that Jo and her sisters find themselves, spending time in the attic making up fairy stories with witches and heroes, or spending an evening reciting the articles written for their beloved imaginary newspaper. It is, however, through the tragedy of losing her sister Beth that Jo finally finds her voice as an artist, and moves into adulthood with the knowledge that while families change and grow apart, the ones we love are always close at heart.
Dayton Opera presents a world-premiere opera created and presented by a team of four of the most talented individuals in today’s opera world, all of whom just happen to be women! This captivating story was sparked as librettist Andrea Fellows Fineberg and stage director Kathleen Clawson uncovered a unique gem in Dayton’s past right in the middle of Dayton’s Woodland Cemetery‒the grave stone of Katharine Wright.
Finding Wright is the story of human connection and emotion, centering on the life of Katharine Wright, sister of two of the most famous Wrights of Dayton, and in fact, the world: brothers of flight Orville and Wilbur Wright. With music by award-winning composer Laura Kaminsky, performed by the Dayton Philharmonic under the direction of conductor Susanne Sheston, Finding Wright is the first-ever full-length opera commissioned for and presented by Dayton Opera.
Finding Wright traces two parallel narratives: one of Katharine Wright, sister of famed Orville and Wilbur Wright; and one of Charlotte (Charlie) Tyler, a 21st century aerospace engineer and academic who is grieving her thwarted career and the recent loss of her husband.
The opera shifts back and forth between Katharine Wright in the early 1900’s and Charlie Tyler in the present day in what the librettist calls “fractured time.” The story follows Katharine from her carefree younger days to the emptiness after the death of her mother to her role in propelling forward the world-changing discovery and invention of her famous brothers, even at the expense of her own ambitions. In the midst of her journey, she falls in love, and her new-found romance drives a wedge between her and her brother Orville. Can this rift be resolved?
In present time, Charlie grieves the loss of her young husband and finds herself at a crossroads in her life. At her husband’s funeral, she discovers Katharine’s grave and begins to explore the story of this kindred soul with whom she feels an unexpected connection. By exploring the past and contemplating Katharine’s actions and motivations, Charlie welcomes a new day dawning and begins to discover her own path forward.
Composer Laura Kaminsky has been cited in The Washington Post as “one of the top 35 female composers in classical music.” She frequently addresses critical social and political issues in her work, including sustainability, war, and human rights. Possessing “an ear for the new and interesting” (The New York Times), “her music is full of fire as well as ice, contrasting dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection. It is strong stuff.” (American Record Guide). Her first opera, As One, is the most produced contemporary opera in North America, with close to 50 productions to date in the U.S. as well as across Europe. Kaminsky brings her expertise and emotion to the creation of the music for Finding Wright.
Finding Wright marks the third time that librettist Andrea Fellows Fineberg has written for Dayton Opera, having previously crafted original dialogue for the 2014 production of The Magic Flute and the 2017 production of The Abduction from the Seraglio. Fineberg has served with Santa Fe Opera for over 30 years, holding the position of Director of Community Engagement since 1993. As librettist she has collaborated with John Kennedy on Trinity and Stephen Paulus on Shoes for the Santo Niño. In 2016, UnShakeable, with Joseph Illick, premiered in Santa Fe, and in the outpouring of activities for the commemoration of the Shakespeare 400, was cited by the New York Times. As a collaborative artist, Fineberg has had the privilege of creating and then working with the Academy for the Love of Learning’s Lifesongs¸ writing original musical narratives with individuals in hospice care since its inception in 2007. For six years she served as a national commissioner to UNESCO and as a member of the Obama Arts Policy Committee in 2008 and 2012.
Conductor Susanne Sheston is currently the Chorus Master of the acclaimed Santa Fe Opera, a position she has held since 2008. As Chorus Master, Sheston has collaborated with many of the world’s leading operatic and symphonic conductors. Her work at Santa Fe has included choral preparations for six world premieres and two North American premieres. Sheston was chorus master for the Grammy-award-winning recording (Best Opera Performance, 2019) of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, recorded live at Santa Fe Opera on the Pentatone label. Her work can also be heard on the 2016 Grammy-nominated recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain. Sheston takes the podium to direct the talented musicians of the Dayton Philharmonic for her first time as they perform together the stunning music of composer Laura Kaminsky.
Kathleen Clawson will be the Stage Director for this important world premiere. As dramaturg, she worked alongside Kaminsky and Fineberg during the development of Finding Wright, helping them to craft the drama of the work. Clawson is making her creative mark at Dayton her first season as Artistic Director, having worked with the company for over twelve years as Stage Director for fifteen performances, as well as appearances on stage as soloist with Dayton Philharmonic.
Commissioned to mark the 60th anniversary of Dayton Opera and Artistic Director Emeritus Thomas Bankston’s 25th season, Finding Wright was moved to 2022 because of the pandemic. Bankston serves as Artistic Advisor for the opera’s premiere.
Making her Dayton Opera debut as lead character Charlie Tyler is mezzo-soprano Amanda Lynn Bottoms. She was most recently engaged with the Santa Fe Opera, covering Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fillipyevna in Eugene Onegin, Ino in The Lord of Cries. To much acclaim, Bottoms headlined the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago Fall 2021 recital series; the opening performance, “Songs of the New World,” was recently named one of the top three Chicago Classical Review’s Best of 2021.
Also making her Dayton Opera debut, mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert performs the historic role of the fascinating Katharine Wright. Much in demand for her command of new music, Gaissert has performed world premieres of music by John Adams, Laura Kaminsky, Mikael Karlsson, Robert Paterson, Martin Hennessy, Mohammed Fairouz, Richard Pearson Thomas, Glen Roven, Yotam Haber, Jorge Martin, Tom Cipullo, Renee Favand-See, Gilda Lyons, Jessica Meyer, Gabriel Kahane and more. A true singing actress, she has received critical acclaim for her interpretations of both new and traditional repertoire in opera, concert, and chamber repertoire. Known for her warm tone, impeccable musicianship and technical prowess, Gaissert has been praised by the Denver Post for her “pure, powerful and appealing voice and a forceful stage presence to match.”
Baritone Sean Anderson embraces his first role with Dayton Opera as Katharine Wright’s love interest and eventual husband, Harry Haskell. Classically trained for the Shakespearian stage, Anderson has received high recognition from Opera News as having a voice of “warm vocal velvet,” and he is diversely adept onstage in opera, musical theater, and classical drama. His repertoire list includes dozens of leading roles ranging from Verdi to Mozart to Gilbert and Sullivan, and his magnetic stage presence and authoritative voice have won him critical acclaim for both comedy and tragedy.
Performing the roles of the famous brothers of flight Orville and Wilbur Wright are tenors Dominic Armstrong and Christian Sanders, respectively. Dominic Armstrong returns to Dayton Opera for his third appearance after his 2017 role of Don José in the beloved Carmen. Dominic has quickly established himself internationally as an artist of superb and distinguished musicality and characterization. Christian Sandershas an operatic range that encompasses stirring roles in works from the classic repertoire to modern operas and works by living composers. Sanders has been hailed by Bill Eadie of SanDiego.com as a “…voice whose color belies his age. Someone to watch!”
Pam Knauert Lavarnway is the creative mind behind the unique scenic design, as the story shifts back and forth from present day to the classical historic time period of the early 1900s. Costumes from these two distinctly different time periods are the work of Bartlett Blair. Resident lighting designer John Rensel will light this production. Wig and Make-up Designers are the talented Cassandra Brake and Thomas Venditelli.
Join the Dayton Opera at the Schuster Center this February for this exhilarating world premiere. Find your path by looking back into the life of Katharine Wright, the inspirational sister of the ingenious inventors of flight who propelled them…and our history…forward!
Performances will be Friday, February 25, 2022 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, February 27, 2022 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera, under the leadership of Artistic Director Kathleen Clawson.. This opera will be sung in English with English surtitles.
Tickets for Finding Wright begin at $5 and are available through the box office at (937) 228-3630 or online atwww.daytonperformingarts.org. Senior, teacher and student discounts are available.
Wright State Theatre presents Gilbert and Sullivan’s mistaken identity musical farce, THE GONDOLIERS in the Herbst Theatre from February 18-27. Written in 1889 by the great founders of English Musical Comedy, Sir Arthur Sullivan and Sir W.S. Gilbert, THE GONDOLIERS is at times as comic as a Saturday Night Live sketch, at other times touching and romantic, and always relentlessly tuneful. Gilbert and Sullivan are the forerunners of some of the greatest writers in the history of Musical Theatre, including Cole Porter, the Gershwins, and Stephen Sondheim. The influences of their comedy and music can be heard in even contemporary musicals like Book of Mormon, Avenue Q and Urinetown.
The silly story concerns the young bride of the heir to the throne of the fictional kingdom of Barataria who arrives in Venice to join her husband. It turns out, however, that he cannot be identified, since he was entrusted to the care of a drunken gondolier who mixed up the prince with his own son. To complicate matters, the King of Barataria has just been killed. The two young gondoliers must now jointly rule the kingdom until the aged nurse of the prince can be brought in to determine which of them is the rightful king. Moreover, when the young queen arrives to claim her husband, she finds that the two gondoliers have both recently married local girls. A last complicating factor is that she, herself, is in love with another man. Though many audience members have seen The Pirates of Penzance or The Mikado, The Gondoliers is a rarer trat and is Gilbert and Sullivan’s last great hit, running for more than two years in London.
The Gondoliers is directed by Jamie Cordes (Human Race’s Airness, Wright State’s If/Then), who says, “Taking a break from contemporary musical theatre, the students have the opportunity to sing a beautiful, funny and exciting score unplugged. The Gondoliers offers a chance for the students to embody grand characters in a world of outlandish circumstances. The intimate Herbst Theatre provides the perfect place to experience light opera. This production should prove to be a wonderful marriage of singing, movement and acting with elements of Monty Python and a smattering of the surreal humor from the 1980 film, Airplane. If you enjoy that, you will most likely love the writing of Gilbert and Sullivan.” The Gondoliers is Music Directed by Matt Ebright (Staff Musical Director) and Choreographed by Senior Musical Theatre major, Nora DeGreen.
Patrons, cast and crew are required to wear masks at all times. Seating for this production is limited to sixty patrons per performance.
Tickets can be purchased at www.wright.edu/theatre.
For more inco call the box office at(937) 775-2500
All 37 plays in 97 minutes! Three madcap men in tights weave their wicked way through all of Shakespeare’s comedies, histories, and tragedies in one wild ride that will leave you breathless and helpless with laughter. An irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s plays, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) was London’s longest-running comedy.
We’re riding those Valentine’s vibes right into the weekend with Cirque Fatale “Ruin Your Childhood” Burlesque! This talented group of dancers presents a burlesque and aerial show that promises to be the Magical Kingdom of fun! The cast will do their best to ruin your childhood favorites like Scooby-Doo, superheroes, and many of those magic castle animated princesses.
The performance is taking place on Friday, February 18, 2022 inside the Ballroom at The Brightside in downtown Dayton (905 E 3rd St) from 7-10pm. Along with Cirque Fatale, this show also features special guests The LeCamerons from CinCity Burlesque!
While this event is certainly fun, there is a charitable element happening too. Cirque Fatale is accepting donations of new bras (all sizes) for the YWCA. Sports bras are needed the most! So if you have some extra you never wore, or find some at the store, please bring along with you to the show!
“Dayton has been such a huge supporter of local entertainment like Cirque Fatale, that we want to give back to our local community,” organizer Cassie Guard shared.
Cirque Fatale shows are known for flying performers over the crowd and making you laugh until your cheeks hurt. But they are also known for being safe in these covid times. They are taking measures to make sure you can still enjoy live entertainment are:
Masks required for entry and are to be worn throughout the venue. Masks may be removed once seated at your table. All “tickets” are tables that seat 2-4 people. No rowed seating allowed. Venue HVAC system has UV-C bulbs to clean and purify the air!
Get your ticket today! Just a few table left: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ruin-your-childhood-burlesque-show-tickets-253806822037
On Friday, February 18, 2022 and Saturday, February 19, 2022 at 8:00 pm in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, under the leadership of Conductor Patrick Reynolds, will present The Ladies of Swing, the third SuperPops concert in the 2021–2022 season of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance.
The Dayton Philharmonic and guest singer Carmen Bradford bring to the stage a program featuring hits performed and recorded by the great Swing legends Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and more. Carmen uses this collection of timeless standards and songs, made popular by the great vocalists of the swing era, to guide the audience with her dazzling vocal style and honor these incredible vocal songstresses.
Carmen Bradford is jazz royalty. Her grandfather Melvin Moore sang with Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band and with the Ink Spots, and her parents are legendary cornetist and composer Bobby Bradford and world-renowned jazz vocalist, composer, and author Melba Joyce. It was no surprise, then, that at the age of 22, Carmen was discovered and hired by William “Count” Basie and became the featured vocalist in the legendary Count Basie Orchestra for nine years.
Since then, Bradford has sung with Big Bands and Symphonies across the country, and she has lent her voice from stage productions to the music of Hollywood films. But she has never stopped performing with her Basie family, the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra. Even after all these years, Carmen has always said, “when they call me, I go!” Her body of work reflects a vast depth of musical experience and technical brilliance, and she contributed to the perpetuation and preservation of this great American art form called jazz.
The DPO and Carmen bring the swing to Dayton with some of the most iconic jazz tunes from the golden era of music, including “Honeysuckle Rose,” “Love is Here to Stay,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” “I Won’t Dance,” “Mr. Paganini,” “Love Me or Leave Me,” “I’ve Got A Crush on You,” “A Tisket A Tasket,” and so many more jazz greats. Carmen Bradford and the Dayton Philharmonic deliver a show-stopping performance to the Schuster this February as together they honor the The Ladies of Swing.
The DPAA is excited to welcome audiences back to the 2021–2022 Season. The health and safety of patrons, performers, staff, and volunteers is our top priority. Beginning November 22, 2021, in partnership with DPAA’s venue partner Dayton Live, the following new health and safety protocols will be in place at all performances and events until further notice:
- Vaccination and Testing – Proof of vaccination or COVID-19 testing will no longer be required to attend performances at Dayton Live venues, including the Schuster Center and the Victoria Theatre.
- Masks – Masks will be required for all patrons over the age of 6 during the entire visit while attending a DPAA performance or event. Mask must cover both nose and mouth.
Tickets for The Ladies of Swing start at $5 and are available at the box office by calling (937) 228-3630 or online at www.daytonperformingarts.org. Senior, teacher and student discounts are available at the box office. For more information or to order subscriptions, including flexible subscription types that include performances by Dayton Philharmonic, Dayton Opera and Dayton Ballet, visit www.daytonperformingarts.org.
In February, there are two opportunities to experience the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, both in-person and Livestream.
The in-person performance is entitled, Inside Out, featuring a unique collection of interdisciplinary and collaborative pieces imagined by Debbie Blunden-Diggs, DCDC’s Chief Producing and Artistic Director. Witness the unveiling of three world premiere works rooted in DCDC’s legacy and sponsored by the Ohio Arts Council.
If we learned anything during 2020 and 2021, we’re reminded that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The world has changed, and we’ve evolved the way we think about craft, art, and society. DCDC’s resident choreographers embark upon new collaborations to explore life in a new world.
Nashville native Countess Winfrey collaborates with jazz composer Wesley Winfrey on new music and dance. The exquisite score is brought to life by The University of Dayton Jazz Ensemble and DCDC’s performing artists. The set design and projections created by visual artist Kanetha Scott are inspired by Winfrey’s choreography and the spirit of Memphis. Winfrey’s new work is the centerpiece of this concert, and you won’t want to miss it!
Performances will be held on February 26 at 7:30pm and February 27 at 4:00pm, LIVE at the Victoria Theater. For tickets call 937-228-3630 or daytonlive.org/dcdc. Tickets start at $15!
“Packed.” “Amazing.” “So Good To See Everyone Out and About!” “Incredible!” You’ve been hearing the accolades all week about ‘Hamilton!…but these remarks are from the business owners in the Dayton Area!
‘Hamilton’ is in town, and along with it comes a revived atmosphere in restaurants, bars and businesses in the downtown area. It has been a blessing for sure. The show, on it’s own, ground-breaking, eye-opening and pleasing to the throngs, carries with it large, sold-out crowds that rediscover out little city…lying in wait after a long 2 years!
To double-down, it was also restaurant week, which pushed some Daytonians to reach out to RESY and OPEN TABLE, something people haven’t relied on in months. And it’s a great problem to have.
Interestingly, the success of ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway lacks by comparison to the ‘Hamilton’ traveling the country! “One of the two touring productions of ‘Hamilton’ made $3,967,400 over its final eight performances in Pittsburgh. It made $4,309,027 during the previous week, which is more money than the record-breaking show has ever made during a week on Broadway.” reported M. Hershberg for Forbes magazine in ’19.
Dayton is no exception as people scramble to find a ticket or two to the show.
What’s more exciting is what it does for season ticket sales for local theaters like Dayton Live. With ‘Hamilton’ in-tow, season tickets sales can go 5% t0 30% higher….a true boon for theaters.
And, all that being said…it’ just great theater! What we can learn about Democracy, and how ‘diametric’ly opposed, foes’ can look beyond what divides us and find compromise and kindness.
Dinner, theater, life lessons and a city so excited to welcome back its life-blood….sounds like ‘Hamilton’ is just what we needed!
Hamilton is playing at the Mead Theater in the Schuster Performing Arts Center, 1 West 2nd St, Dayton.
For more info visit: https://www.daytonlive.org/
Wright State Theatre will present Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama, Sweat, as its first play of 2022, running February 3-13th. As if lifted from our own local headlines, this gripping drama takes us into the lives of middle-American industrial workers facing the end of their livelihoods as their factory jobs disappear and their families and friendships struggle to survive. Lynn Nottage has written an exquisite, devastating contemporary tragedy. Set, in one of the poorest cities in America (Reading, Pennsylvania), a group of down-and-out factory workers struggle to keep their present lives in balance, ignorant of the financial devastation looming in their near future. Based on Nottage’s extensive research and interviews with residents of Reading, Sweat is a bracing and topical reflection of the present and poignant outcome of America’s economic decline.
Visiting Guest Director Shaun Patrick Tubbs says, “SWEAT talks about people who don’t often get a voice. Those are the ones who tend to be affected most by the world around them. Often the choices we make are for survival, not because we want them. But, it’s because we feel they are our only choice. The truth of the matter is, until you’ve had everything you know taken away, you don’t know what choice you would make. And that’s what they’re going through in this play.”
Tubbs is a New York City-based director whose work has been seen at the Juilliard School, New York Theatre Workshop, The Signature Theatre (Arlington, VA), and many other theatres and opera companies nationally. He is also a graduate of Wright State’s BFA Acting program and has been seen locally in productions at The Human Race Theatre Company, among others. When asked about what it’s like to be back at his alma mater, Mr. Tubbs says, “I thought it would feel that so much time had passed – given that it’s been just about twenty years since I graduated. But it doesn’t feel that way. Instead, I feel I’ve stepped into somewhere familiar that’s reminded me of why I do what I do, because it’s about learning how to learn. My hope is that I can help these students realize the gap between where they are now and where they want to be – their dream – is much smaller than I thought it was when I was a student at Wright State.”
Sweat features scenic design by guest artist Michael Brewer, costume design by student Taylor Dumas, and Lighting Design by Matthew Benjamin.
Playwright Lynn Nottage is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama, receiving the award in 2009 for Ruined and again in 2017 for Sweat. Her other major works include the play, Intimate Apparel, now being adapted as an opera, composed by Ricky Ian Gordon, having its premiere at the Lincoln Center Theatre. She is also the librettist for the new Broadway musical, MJ: The Musical, recounting the life of pop sensation, Michael Jackson.
Sweat runs from February 3rd through 13th in Wright State University’s Festival Playhouse (Creative Arts Center). Patrons, cast and crew are required to wear masks at all times.
Tickets can be purchased at:
(937) 775-2500 box office
Nutcrackers, dancers, snow and songs. Sounds like a typical holiday event, but Cirque Dreams Holiday at the Victoria is anything but standard fare. We all have become familiar with the Cirque brand….acrobats, magicians, oddities….and they’ve arrived en force in Dayton! The 90-minute show, in 2 Acts, moves quickly, with some stunning ‘sideshow’ style moments and solid aerobatic performances. Set to a loosely based ‘Nutcracker’ theme, the background highlights larger than life props, and chorus characters dressed in candy-striped sweetness.
One of the best parts of the show is watching and listening to those folks in the audience….kids with their mouths agape as a lady wrapped in cloth, suspended from the ceiling, seems to lose control in a quick roll to earth, only to stop just short of her demise. Loud claps, and uneasy ‘phews’ fill the space. Adults. watching in semi-horror as a contortionist twists 6 ways from Sunday, muttering ‘ewwws’ and ‘ouches!’ And, of course, the occasional, ‘Oh brother…’ when the tongue-in-cheek cheesy moments hit the stage. (There are a few!)
The dangling rope artist is exceptional, the hula-hooper is spectacular and the King and Queen Sugar Plum are the climax in terms of awe-factor! But, for me, and oddly, it was the high-spirited jumprope artists that made the impression. Smiling, without fail, and getting the audience into a clapping frenzy, the jumpers appear to hit 60mph, and it was just plain fun! The lady behind me saying ‘I’d have a heart attack doing that, but it looks so invigorating!’…..ummmm, don’t try that at home!
Kids will love the Holidaze as it never really slows down, and when it does, the bass filled music never lets us ‘rest’ long enough to take a breath. (Intermission is short, so grab that wine, pronto!) The show starts on-time and stays on-time, for parents. that’s a great thing to know.
The only real drawback to Holidaze is the story itself. We get moments of narration, and insights into what Clara wants for Christmas, but honestly, it’s not necessary and makes little sense. At one point, Clara gets her chance in the air, and you are left wondering, ‘Did Clara ask to be catapulted for Christmas?’
All that aside, it’s good, clean fun. The magician does his level best to engage the audience in a second act ‘sing-along’ and the ‘narrator’ stays the course by crooning some holiday hits. You’ll enjoy it….your kids will love it….and you will all leave with the proverbial ‘I wonder how they did that?’
Cirque Dream Holidaze is at the Victoria Theater 12/21- 12/26.
Tickets range from $35-$85.
More information at daytonlive.org