Neil Goldberg was always a Christmas ornament collector. The founder of Cirque Dreams — the Florida-based production company that creates theatrical, Euro-inspired cirque shows and sends them around the world — has been picking up an ornament here and there since the age of 8.
“It was an odd thing for a Jewish boy in New York to do,” he laughs. “But I used to pick up [ornaments] off the discarded Christmas trees at the end of the season. My ornament collection [now] has more than 10,000 pieces — Faberge eggs, surfboards from Hawaii.”
With several Cirque Dreams productions under his belt, Goldberg soon had the idea to combine his passions, creating a holiday show that used conceptual (and literal) ornaments as catalysts for a series of vignettes. The $2 million ”Cirque Dreams: Holidaze,” now in its eighth year, arrives at Boch Center – Shubert Theatre on Dec. 9 for six shows through Dec. 11.
In the two-act show, the 30 Cirque Dreams artists spin scenes of synonymous holiday lore while performing jaw-dropping feats and acrobatics that send them soaring into the air, scaling a 20-foot-tall Christmas tree, in the midst of a department store frenzy and constructing a truly larger than life Gingerbread cookie.
“I love gingerbread cookies,” Goldberg says. “And I thought, ‘How fabulous would it be to recreate the actual making of the biggest gingerbread house and cookie and put it on stage?”
“Holidaze” does just that, mimicking the construction of a 30-foot-tall gingerbread cookie at the end of act one. The “visual feast,” as Goldberg calls it, lasts no longer than four minutes and 30 seconds.
“We’re cognizant of audience members’ attention spans,” he explains. “We never let anything last on stage for more than four-and-a-half minutes. We want people to stay on the edge of their seats. That’s why you should see ‘Holidaze’ opposed to ‘The Nutcracker’ — which is wonderful and beautiful — but with those shows, you know what’s going to happen next. For us, it’s two hours where you have no idea.”
Given the show’s near-decade run, Goldberg and his team also work tirelessly (starting in January) to add and re-tweak scenes to the show. This year’s 20-scene production includes the creation of a menorah and the celebration of New Year’s Eve. In short, there’s a lot going on.
And for Goldberg — that’s just grand. “For me, I’m heavily bias,” but I know as the producer the only complaint I hear from people is that their hands hurt from clapping too much.”
If you go:
Boch Center – Shubert Theatre
265 Tremont St.
Starting at $43, bochcenter.org