Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern

Cirque Dreams
Jungle Fantasy

Also see John's reviews of Mother Load and Havana Bourgeois

RRA Broadway Across America - Miami presents Cirque Dreams —Jungle Fantasy, created and directed by Broadway producer Neil Goldberg. This tale of a young man who embarks on an exotic jungle adventure features an international cast of 25 aerialists, contortionists, acrobats and musicians. The impressive precision of the specialty acts, as they artfully perform seemingly death-defying tricks without nets or spotters, makes this truly worth seeing.

Cirque Dreams - Jungle Fantasy, which has run on Broadway, and enjoyed a national tour, it is not to be confused with productions done by Cirque du Soleil. The set designed by Jon Craine is not as lavish and grand as those done by Cirque du Soleil, and it has more the feel of a glitzy, theme park production. The first act features vine-entangled trees in greens and browns that become darker and more ominous in the second act with the coming of nightfall. Costuming created by Lenora Taylor and Santiago Rojo pop with color and texture, but are lacking a bit in detail and elegance. One spoiled by the special effect, imaginative fly-ins and opulent costumes of Cirque du Soleil productions may be disappointed in this aspect of Cirque Dreams —Jungle Fantasy, but the astonishingly physical performances of each of the specialty acts in this production are the real stars of this latest Goldberg creation.

An adventurer, seemingly plucked at random from the audience (played by Marcello Balestracci), embarks on a journey through a jungle of fantastic creatures. He's accompanied throughout his journey by singer Amanda Restivo as Mother Nature, and Jared Burnett as the Soultree Violinist. Burnett's violin strapped to his torso makes him look like a Jungle Satyr playing a stringed weapon. Burnett plays haunting melodies with great passion and dexterity. Music written by Jill Winters falls short as sung by Amanda Restivo. The bland, aimless melodies are not sung with the ethereal beauty one associates with these production, as Restivo's sings in a very pop-Broadway sound. Her vocal placement is so far forward as to be annoying, particularly at the beginning of the second act. On a stage filled with performers of such grace, her own lack of poise in the way she carries herself needs to be addressed as well.

The production promoted a chance to "Run Away With Cirque Dreams" by holding local vocal auditions for a guest appearance in the role of The Singing Tree. The winner who performed here was 16-year-old Kevin Yungman. Despite looking a tad scared, Yungman sang just beautifully. His warm and mature voice was actually much more pleasing to listen to then that of Restivo's as Mother Nature.

Our handsome adventurer, Marcello Ballestracci, is a jack-of-all-trades as he seems to have some degree of ability in almost all of the areas covered by the specialty acts, and is particularly good as one of the Monkey Manipulators who spin and jump through multiple, large, geometric shapes whirring about the stage. This is a fun way to spend an evening, especially for children, but needless to say, do not try these tricks at home!

This production of Cirque Dreams - Jungle Fantasy appeared May 12 —May 17, 2009 at the Adrienne Arsht Center For The Performing Arts in Miami, FL. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is made possible by the public support of the Miami-Dade County Major and the Board of County Commissioners, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council. It also receives generous support from private and corporate contributions to the Performing Arts Center Foundation of Greater Miami through it's Membership Program, the City of Miami Omni Community Redevelopment Agency, the Dade Community Foundation, The MAP-Fund, the Sate of Florida, the Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For information or to purchase tickets for the many diverse offering of the Arsht Center, you may contact them at 305-949-6072, or visit them at

RRA - Broadway Across America - Miami is presented in arrangement with the Florida Theatrical Association, which is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida. Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over five million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit

Director: Neil Goldberg
Choreography: Tara Jeanne Vallee
Lighting Design: Kate Johnson
Scenic Design: Jon Craine
Sound Design: Joe King
Costume Design: Cirque Productions, Lenora Taylor & Santiago Rojo
Stage Manager: Betsy Herst

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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