The holidays mean time with family and friends, and enjoying special traditions. Now in its 7th year, Cirque Dreams Holidaze is bringing the magic and wonder of the holidays to life on the Wharton Center stage this week, December 17-19, 2015.
I spoke with Neil Goldberg, producer and creator of Cirque Dreams Productions, about what audiences can expect from the stage spectacular - and what the holidays mean to him.
STEFANIE POHL: With Cirque Dreams Productions, there are a variety of themed shows. What was the inspiration behind 'Cirque Dreams Holidaze'?
NEIL GOLDBERG: I'm a very family-oriented person, and the tradition of holiday time and getting gifts, sparkle and decorations, it was always significant to me throughout my entire life. When I was eight years old, I started collecting ornaments. I've traveled around the world and now have a collection of over 10,000 pieces, spanning from authentic Fabergé eggs from Russia to ornaments from Mongolia. Some of them are significant in terms of their artistic value, but most are significant in terms of their imagination and creativity.
One day I brought a couple hundred of them into my studio in Florida and took them to the wardrobe department and said 'wouldn't these things make amazing costumes?' The over 300 costumes in 'Cirque Dreams Holidaze' are inspired by my ornaments in my collection. The 30-foot steel frame tree on stage is the centerpiece of this landscape of gifts and candy canes. When the curtain comes up, there's a gasp in the audience, not knowing what to expect from these performers, each dressed up as an ornament, in this holiday landscape.
POHL: There are marquee shows that come around during the holidays. Do you see 'Cirque Dreams Holidaze' as a growing family tradition?
GOLDBERG: It is! This is our 7th season touring 'Cirque Dreams Holidaze' around the country. The show evolves every year, and we're always making it bigger and more spectacular. I think what separates it a bit from the traditional Christmas fare is that with 'Cirque Dreams Holidaze,' you never know what's going to happen next. You know Santa is going to appear, but you know it's not what you'd expect. We find it is becoming a family tradition, especially in certain cities like Detroit where we're going back for the 6th year in a row. There's not many shows where mom and dad can take the kids and the grandparents, and everyone can sit and enjoy.
POHL: Tell us more about your Neil Goldberg Dream Foundation, which helps support the dreams of artists looking to cultivate their talents. What does it mean to you to give back?
GOLDBERG: For me, my career has been a crazy and interesting road map of connecting the dots. When I was younger, and my imagination would wander, there wasn't a lot of support. So skipping ahead to Cirque Dreams, and the phenomenal success the shows have had over 23 years, it wasn't a second thought for me to create a foundation that could support the arts. Specifically for young people, who encounter obstacles in pursuing what their dreams are. That's why the word dreams has such a significant role in everything we do. If I have the opportunity to make a difference in anyone's dreams, the fact that they can follow them and bring them to reality, then that's what my mission is going to be.
See 'Cirque Dreams Holidaze' at the Wharton Center this week, December 17-19, 2015. Visit www.whartoncenter.com for details and ticket information.