Cirque goes on holiday with ‘Twas the Night Before’

The cast of Cirque du Soleil’s production of “Twas the Night Before…” Photo credit: Errisson Lawrence

BOSTON – Cirque du Soleil’s first entry into the holiday entertainment genre borrows from a host of other works, but at its heart it’s still Cirque.

“Twas the Night Before…,” now at the Wang Theatre in the Boch Center through Dec. 11, has many of the same elements of past successful Cirque shows, including dashing, daring performers and production values – lights, costumes, sets, sound –that are, as usual, to die for. The show debuted in 2019 in Chicago and New York and is visiting Boston for the first time.

So when you’re not oohing and aahing at the incredible acrobats or the juggler, you’ll be swooning at the sparkly set festooned with garlands, the vivid lighting or the jazzy score which transforms traditional Christmas carols.

What makes most holiday entertainment successful, though, is a timeless story and here  “Twas the Night Before” borrows heavily from works that have come before In the end, it’s still long on spectacle and magic and a bit short when it comes to the story.

The story is about a young girl named Isabella, played by Alicia Beaudoin, who later in the show doubles as an acrobatic bike rider when a mischievous elf finally returns her bike. She and her father have a Christmas Eve tradition of reading Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,”  which also goes by its opening line  “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

The cast of Cirque du Soleil’s “Twas the Night Before…” Photo Credit: Errisson Lawrence

This year, however, Isabella feels she’s outgrown the tradition.  But then the magic of the poem comes to life, and Isabella and her father are unexpectedly separated by a snowstorm that sends them on a fantastical journey.

In the winter wonderland created by the poem, they discover a series of whimsical characters, children and even reindeer, all of which combine to reunite the father and daughter in the spirit of Christmas.

That sets the stage for the type of acts you’ve come to expect from the Montreal-based troupe. As the verses of the poem are recited, an act takes place in conjunction with the verses, but often the connections are tenuous or mysterious.

In the poem’s passage meant to describe St. Nick, the juggler (Roberto Carlos Carbajal Aguolar) is actually a character called Jolly, kind of a bizarre Santa Claus. Well, if anyone has learned how to juggle multiple tasks, it’s Santa. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll find out at some point if he is the real thing.

One of the more ingenious and creative numbers is called “Sharing the Spark” in which light appears and disappears in an instant, seemingly handed from one of “Les Tuques” – the mischievous elves – who dance with the spark of light. Captivated, Isabella joins in the game as they lead her to her next encounter.

Royer Segura and Emelie Sandberg are dynamic, daring roller skaters who combine skill and strength.

There is one part of the poem which comes together spectacularly and joyfully, when the eight tumbling, dashing hoop-diving reindeer who power Santa’s sleigh emerge from the audience and take over the stage.

We know them all by name and just as on Christmas Eve, they work joyfully together as a team to thrill us with their “reindeer games.”

At about 90 minutes. “Twas the Night Before…” moves swiftly and briskly without an intermission,

The idea with a great holiday show is to have people coming back year after year to see something they’ve enjoyed once, with fond memories. For instance, the North Shore Music Theatre’s annual production of  “A Christmas Carol” has been running since 1989.

If you’re a fan of Cirque or just looking for something different in a holiday show the entire family can enjoy, you’ve come to the right place.

The Cirque du Soleil production of “Twas the Night Before.” At the Wang Theatre in the Boch Center through Dec. 11. Tickets start at $30.