Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rave Review for Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy

What did guest blogger, Jacob Matsumiya think of the new live theatrical adventure Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy? Read his review of opening night below. Did you see the show (tickets are still available through February 21)? Tell us what you think.

Jacob says::
Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy is an exciting and deeply entertaining night of color, spectacle, music and fun. Not to be confused with Cirque de Soleil, Cirque Dreams is its on brand of family-friendly fun, yet it is just as exciting as any Cirque show I have seen in Vegas. Making it more family-friendly is the fact that tickets are priced at $20-$60; about half as much as a Cirque de Soleil show would generally cost. It makes for a perfect treat for a family with young children looking for a reasonably priced, out-of-the-ordinary night of theater.

As soon as you enter the theater you are transported to another world – a jungle of bright colors and strange animals. Leading you through your journey is an “audience member” turned Adventurer (Marcello Balestracci) who is every bit as talented and flexible as any of the creatures who inhabit this jungle fantasy. As the Adventurer explores this magical world you are greeted by an exciting assortment of acrobatic creatures – from “lizards” that contort in a way that you never thought humanly possible to “spiders” that perform amazing feats of aerial stunts and “emus” that do the tango, this jungle is truly a fantasy world come to life. Complementing each spectacle is a beautiful techno infused score by Jill Winters and enchanting songs performed pitch perfectly by Mother Nature (Amanda Restivo).

My favorite performance of the evening, and one that left my sister blabbing on the car ride home, was a sequence entitled “Jungle-ibrium,” which entailed two talented – and highly skilled – performers balancing on a plank set atop five paint cans turned on their sides (pictured). I am still astounded that they were able to keep their balance. They were always inches from crashing to the floor, which, of course, only added to the excitement.

Although Cirque Dreams may not be as well known as its bigger cousin Cirque de Soleil, it no doubt deserves to be. With its combination of beautiful music, skilled performers, family-friendly content and reasonable prices, this is a not-to-miss jungle fantasy. I only hope that Cirque’s new touring show, Cirque Dreams Illumination – currently under development – will visit the Center once it begins its national tour. I cannot wait to get lost in another fantasy complements of the talented folks of Cirque Dreams.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Guest Blogger Joins Center Scene

Jacob Matsumiya, former Center intern, current MBA student at Chapman University and self-described theater nut, will be regularly blogging on Center Scene as a guest reviewer. Jacob experienced his first Cabaret Series show last night with the smooth Matt Dusk. Jacob shares his thoughts on the show below. Let us know if you agree or disagree. We’d love to hear from you! And check back soon for Jacob’s next review, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy.
Jacob writes:
I was not sure what to expect from Matt Dusk, the Canadian crooner. Of course I had heard jazz classics from this era, but they had never been my favorite. But last night Dusk made a believer out of me. A classically trained singer and admitted Frank Sinatra devotee, Dusk has an excellent singing voice that is perfectly suited to his repertoire of jazz and swing standards of the 1930s and 40s. He is a natural performer who delights in entertaining the audience as he croons his way through such classics as “Mack the Knife” and “I Did it My Way.” I could not help but be taken in by the engaging melodies of these songs and the effortless nature with which Dusk performed them. My favorite song of the evening was one of the original songs off of Dusk’s second album, “Back to Me,” entitled “All About Me.” This song was well-written, well sung, and epitomizes the spirit of Dusk – a charming jazz classic that proves that some good things never go out of style.
Equally as charming is the Samueli Theater at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. This incredible theater space acts as a perfect venue for cabaret and live music performances. The acoustics are phenomenal – I could hear both the Dusk’s vocals and the band equally well – and the intimate table set-up provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic evening; evidenced by the many couples who took to the side aisles to dance while Dusk performed – myself included. Needless to say, my date and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. I definitely plan on returning to the Samueli in the future to enjoy another intoxicating evening of good music and good company in a great venue.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

AI Winner Taylor Hicks Keeping Busy

Nothing is better than seeing Taylor Hicks perform live in Grease (it plays here April 28-May 10), but you can catch him on Kelly & Regis before he makes his way to the Southland. Taylor will make two appearances on the perennially popular talk show. On Friday, February 20, Taylor will be a guest as part of the show's "Celebrity Week" and on Monday, March 2, he'll return to perform a song from his soon-to-be released album, The Distance. He will sing his new single, "What's Right is Right" from The Distance, which will be released March 20.