The seeds of Cirque Dreams were planted a half-century ago when Neil Goldberg saw the Rockettes for the first time at Radio City Music Hall. It was a life-altering experience for the Broadway director and theater producer.
“Watching the Radio City holiday show when I was a kid had a huge impact on me,” Goldberg said by phone from Lakeland, Fla. “That show stayed with me and when I had the opportunity, I wanted to put together a show with warmth and spectacle. I dreamed about producing a show like Cirque Dreams a long time ago.
Cirque Dreams became a reality 27 years ago. The elaborate production, which was sold to Cirque du Soleil last year, is a combination of a Broadway musical and Cirque spectacle. Ear and eye candy is ubiquitous. Those who check out Cirque Dreams: “Holidaze” on Tuesday (12/10) at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids will experience more than 300 costume changes involving 30 diverse acts delivering original tunes and holiday favorites.
“You’ll see things like angels flying through the air,” Goldberg said. “You’ll hear songs like ‘Deck the Halls’ and ‘Jingle Bell Rock.’ You’ll hear the classics. Songs will be updated. It’s the kind of show that will put you in the holiday spirit. By the time you leave you’ll be in a great mood.”
The material will cover the songs of the season, with Christmas tunes, Hanukkah songs and New Year’s cuts.
“We cover all of the bases with this show,” Goldberg said. “It’s inclusive and fun. We created a show that brings everyone together. It doesn’t matter what you believe. You come out to our show and it takes you away for two hours as you experience an old-fashioned feel-good show.”
Every year brings an underlying theme to Cirque Dreams: “Holidaze.” This time out it’s “Give ’em Joy.”
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“I just think joy is what people need, since it’s challenging out there now,” Goldberg said. “It’s different than the world I grew up in. I think this show gives people hope and I think that’s something we can all use.”
Cirque Dreams’ holiday shows are ubiquitous in November and December. Six “Holidaze” companies will be hitting more than 60 cities.
“The last two months of the year are very demanding for me,” Goldberg said. “I work 14 hour days and fly all over the country, just to make sure that you’re seeing the most spectacular holiday show. I have 10 months to bask in the glory of this show, but now it’s just relentless but that’s just fine.”
Goldberg has no desire to go back to Broadway.
“I’m fine going in another direction,” Goldberg said. “What I’m doing more than satisfies me. What I’m trying to do is bring Broadway to towns around the country. My aim is to present high-level entertainment to people who can’t afford to go to Las Vegas or Broadway.”
Goldberg still returns to New York for his Rockettes fix at Radio City.
“I still go and I’ll bring my grandchildren,” he said. “But I’m not a cold weather person as much anymore. The only snow I like to see is on the stage. But it is so nice in a city like Cedar Rapids, since it feels like the holiday season there with the chill. It’s always great fun with the shows in Iowa. These shows take you back to your childhood.”
While preparing for the production, Goldberg hearkens back to his youth.
“When I get caught up in the show with all of the decorations, I recall what it was like when I was 8, which is when I started an ornament collection,” he said. “I picked up discarded ornaments out of the trash after walking out of Jewish Day School, and I’ve been collecting ornaments for more than 50 years. I have more than 10,000 pieces.
“I’m hoping that the young people that see ‘Holidaze’ develop an appreciation for the holidays like I have.”
• What: Cirque Dreams: “Holidaze”
• Where: Paramount Theatre, 123 Third Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids
• When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (12/10)
• Tickets: $53 to $78, Paramount Ticket Office, (319) 366-8203 or Paramounttheatrecr.com
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• Show’s website: Cirqueproductions.com/public-shows/cirque-dreams-holidaze/