The magic of circus and Christmas will be rolled into one jaw-dropping ornament after another Wednesday night (12/5) at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids.
It’s pretty safe to say no one in the audience will be breathing when “America’s Got Talent” finalists Tyce Nielsen and Mary Ellen Wolfe bring their Duo Transcend trapeze and skating artistry to the stage. Not to mention the fact that Nielsen generally performs his aerial catches blindfolded.
“It’s very definitely going to add a shot of adrenaline into the show, I should say,” Paul Dabek, 32, an award-winning British magician, comedian, actor and the show’s emcee, said by phone from his Los Angeles home. “They’re quite breathtaking, and of course, in not just the one discipline. They’re multitalented, so fans of them definitely will not be disappointed.”
The dazzling duo, who now live with their son in Salt Lake City, met as high divers in a cliff diving show. They subsequently married, then turned their attention to trapeze and roller skating acrobatics.
Having audience VIP seating onstage will up the wow factor during their act, as well as others.
“The way the show is staged, quite a bit of the audience gets to be quite close — it’s quite an intimate staging of the show,” Dabek said. “Some people will even be able to feel the wind whistling as they get flown around the place.”
Among the other performers are:
• Sleight-of-hand magician Sebastian Nicolas, winner of the Mandrake d‘Or of the French Academy of Illusionists, a prize previously won by David Copperfield and Siegfried & Roy.
• Shoulder ballet duo Runfei Deng and Shilei Chen, incorporating Chinese acrobatic skills where the ballerina performs atop her partner’s body, shoulders and head. “The discipline is quite breathtaking,” Dabek said, “with the female balancing en pointe, often on one leg on the outstretched arm of the male performer. ... It’s quite balletic and beautiful.”
• Speed juggler Roberto Carlos, an award-winner who has performed with Cirque du Soleil.
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• Cyr (open circle) Wheel artist Sarah Togni, who graduated from the Accademia D’arte Circense in Verona, Italy.
• Rola Bola balancing artist Oleksiy “Alex” Mruz, who graduated from the circus academy in Kiev, Ukraine.
• The TT Boys, Tamrat & Tomas from Ethiopia, who perform foot juggling, midair somersaults and acrobatics on a raised platform.
• Contortionist Anna Ostapenko of Montreal, a Ukraine native who began sport acrobatics at age 5 and has performed with Cirque du Soleil companies for 14 years.
“You’ve gotta wonder who these people discovered they could do these things,” Dabek said with a laugh.
“What’s so exciting about the show, is that it’s taking the model of the old-fashioned, all-around family entertainment and bringing it real up-to-date, while still having that Christmas traditional feel to it,” Dabek said. “I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but it really is a show for all ages.
“We’ve got magic, juggling, acrobatics, comedy. The music’s got a Christmas theme, and even that’s brought up-to-date with some nice spins to it. We’ve got live vocals in the show, so it’s a real mixture of circus, variety, comedy.
“It’s pretty exciting. I’m pretty stoked to be part of it. Especially for a touring show, it’s got such a level of production that you don’t see touring, especially at this time of the year. It’s really got that kind of sumptuous Christmas feel to it.”
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Dabek will wear many hats as master of ceremonies, adding in his own magical touches and humor to the show.
He hails from a small, farming market town in Britain’s Midlands and grew up “religiously” watching a weekly magic show on BBC-TV. He was bitten by the performing bug early-on, and has “been a professional attention-seeker ever since,” he said.
“Like a lot of kids my age, I had the magic set and I just never grew out of it. I’m a big kid who never grew up really. ... I was very lucky. My parents were incredibly supportive. They saw that I just wanted to perform, and they supported me 100 percent, so I just went for it and haven’t looked back since. ...
“I had an older sister whom I dearly wanted to make disappear. However, we get along very well now.”
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WHAT: A Magical Cirque Christmas
WHERE: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday (12/5)
TICKETS: $34 to $150 VIP seating onstage; Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com