Christmas is almost upon us. The malls and big box stores are packed with harried shoppers and Federal Highway and Biscayne Boulevard are congested parking lots at most hours of the day. If you’re looking for an escape, two shows currently playing in South Florida offer a welcome distraction from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season:
Cirque du Soleil’s “Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities,” running through Jan. 29 in the signature blue and yellow Grand Chapiteau across from Hard Rock Stadium, offers a journey into a Gothic, steampunk inspired world inhabited by colorful tinkerers.
All the usual acts are there—the Asian contortionists and chiseled aerialists—but the intrigue of the show comes with the characters who appear in between, the creations of Michel Laprise.
The audience is introduced to The Seeker, master of the house, “a humanist as ingenuous as he is ingenious,” as the press kit says, who “believes in an invisible world where the craziest ideas and grandest dreams await.”
There’s Mr. Microcosmos, a half-human, half-bulbous automaton whose steel belly is the home to Mini Lili, who represents his unconscious mind. And then there’s Nico the Accordion Man, enough explanation given, and Klara, the Telegraph of the Invisible who apparently receives alpha waves by tilting her hoop skirt in various directions. The Curiosistanians are the residents of this imaginary country, who serve as clowns throughout the performance.
It’s an astonishing vision, even if I’m still digesting the “plot” a week later. And, in the end, I can tell you the hard-bodied aerialists left the strongest impression, for obvious reasons.
For a more conventional escape, “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” currently playing at the Broward Center, offers a delightful take on the beloved fairy tale.
While Richard Rodgers’ tuneful score has withstood the tests of time, Oscar Hammerstein II’s script got a modern overhaul in 2013 by Douglas Carter Beane that seems even more powerful given the current political climate in this country.The biggest laughs come early in the show when “Ella” (Tatyana Lubov) encounters Prince “Topher” (handsome Hayden Stanes) in the woods and comments, “That was a world leader? He appears to have a heart, mind and a soul.”
In addition to the needling subplot about social justice, all the requisite elements are still there—the fairy godmother, pumpkin coach, glass slipper—but the real stars of the show are the beautiful Tony Award-winning costumes by William Ivey Long. Don’t blink or you’re likely to miss a spectacular transformation. Magic, indeed.
A close second place would be awarded to the set design by Anna Louizos, masterfully lit by Kenneth Posner. Again, if you blink, you might miss a quick change.
Among the standouts in the cast are Leslie Jackson as the fairy godmother and the hefty Joanna Johnson, who steals the show with “Stepsister’s Lament.”
Whether you opt for the fantastic or the traditional, both shows are ready to transport you to a happier place until Christmas comes.
“Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities” runs through Jan. 29 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Tickets start at $39 at CirqueDuSoleil.com. “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” runs through Dec. 25 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets start at $35 at BrowardCenter.org.