Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cirque Dreams Opens at Heinz Hall (Review)


by Sarah Davis
Photo via Cirque Dreams
"Pop Goes The Rock", the latest all-in-one musical from the Cirque Dreams brand, opened last night at Heinz Hall, located in Downtown, Pittsburgh, and blew me away.  This is part of a traveling tour, of PNC Broadway Across America, and it will only be in Pittsburgh until Feb 26, 2012.  "Pop Goes The Rock" is written, directed, and produced by Neil Goldberg, the creator of the Cirque Dreams brand. "Pop Goes The Rock" has a live band, a full dance crew, seasoned vocalists from all over the world, and is said to be a "funhouse of music, mayhem, and sensory spectacle." 

This show is full of life, almost bursting at the seams with energy, and offers songs you've probably heard of like Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" and Madonna's "Like a Prayer." The show is carnival-like, each act offering a performance of magic tricks, balancing, juggling, chain-climbing, swinging into the audience, and much more, all while mixed with live music. It is truly you are a child again and you're dreaming of what it would be like to be trapped inside of a jack-in-the-box or a carnival funhouse, a carnival atmosphere trapped into a confined space. Goldberg does a really good job at bringing this child-like illusion and fantasy to life.

There is one particular balancing act where two guys stacked cans (some face down, some on their sides) and then topped it off with a flat board, which they both stood on.  The whole thing seemed so unstable that the audience was on the edge of their seat. The illusion of everything being unstable is part of what they were going for and they live up to it. There were a lot of acts that showed incredible strength, illusion, and balance (of course, there was  the iconic tight rope act). One of the most difficult to watch was the character Genny, who is a chain dancer and swinger.  She can actually wrap a harness around her neck and spin herself around, just with her neck, while hanging high in the air, overlooking the audience.  It is one of those things that makes you wonder how her neck isn't broken.  

"Pop Goes The Rock" would be especially great if you have children in your group when attending.  The live band keeps things energetic and loud throughout the whole show, so it's definitely not one of those shows where the audience is dead silent.  It's very different than a ballet like The Nutcracker (which I did a review of in December), because it's fun and loud.  (If kids get feel the need to chatter, you don't hear them because the atmosphere is so loud.) At one point, one of the cast members hops down off of the stage to come shake hands with everyone in the audience, ultimately snagging a victim to take up on stage to be used for one of the scenes.  Overall, "Pop Goes The Rock" is a great show to revisit some of your childhood fantasies, kick back, and watch as other people do things you would never attempt (like hang from a high ceiling by chains attached to a harness around your neck and swing yourself around and around until you can't see straight.)

For tickets, please visit: The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

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