‘Twas the Night Before…’
By Whitney Spears
‘Twas the Night Before…is the first Christmas show by Cirque Du Soleil. Each act is inspired by a line from Clement Clarke Moore’s poem, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas.”
The story brings us on a journey of a pre-teen girl, Isabella, and her dad on Christmas Eve. It has been a tradition for Isabella’s dad to read, ‘A Visit from Saint Nicholas,’ but she feels “too grown up” for that childish book. She ignores him, but that doesn’t stop her dad from carrying on the tradition, in hopes she might comply. Suddenly, her dad opens the book and the magic of the poem leaps straight out onto the stage and the magical acrobatic adventure begins.
A snowstorm falls upon the scene and Isabella and her father are separated in a whirlwind of commotion as the story unfolds. We first meet a very tarnished Santa wearing a rainbow hat and pajamas that resemble a Christmas tree. Tarnished Santa proceeds to perform several bicycle wheelies, at times only using his hands to peddle the bike, and he completes the act standing on the handlebars and juggling three of the toys he brought for the children.
The scene changes were very well executed, strategically throughout, and involved some skill. Between each act, the stage was continuously full of snow and in this instance, some of the performers pushed large brooms across the stage, but all the while fitting perfectly into the scene. Other times when there wasn’t snow, we are met with our little, and very entertaining, winter friends, dressed in all white, who keep our minds and eyes entertained with some fun hip hop dancing, as the next act prepares to fill the stage.
With each act, we hear a piece of Clark Moore’s poem … “The children were all snug in their beds…” leads us into The Acro Table Act, where the audience watches a high energy performance with hilarious acrobatics. “Away to the window, I flew like a flash…” brings the audience to the 70’s disco with the Roller Skates act where a couple spin around on a 1.8-meter (5.9 feet) drum.
“Up from the chimney she rose…” came the mystical and awe-inspiring Hair Suspension Act. Even though I sat the entire time with my face scrunched up in disbelief, and in a little bit of fear for the performer, she glided through the air with such ease and grace I couldn’t believe my eyes. The act came to an end with the world’s fastest spin leaving the audience no choice but to cheer at the top of their lungs.
“His eyes – how they twinkled!…” For those who are not familiar with circus acts, this is one of my favorites, mainly because it’s the only act I personally am successful with, the Diabolo. A Diabolo is a “double-cone bobbin that is twirled, tossed, and caught on a string secured by two wands, one held in each hand.” There were four performers dressed in neon glow in the dark costumes who tossed the Diablo effortlessly around the theater ending with two audience volunteers being tied up in the strings while the diabolo flew around them. I was very impressed and found this to be the most enjoyable performance.
As the production came to an end, we see Isabella’s father perform a breathtaking Acro act set to the tune, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” which leads to a beautiful reunification. Isabella does have her own performance, but I don’t want to give away all the fun!
Overall, the production was intentionally thought out and thoroughly executed.