The notion of magic spotlighted in a holiday show seemed novel and appealing. But despite this show being called a “A Magical Cirque Christmas,” there is little magic here, neither literally nor emotionally.
Host Lucy Darling does take a child from the audience, banter with her, wrap her in a green blanket, lay her on a table and then proceed to briefly levitate her. And Darling does do the classic table dance of the multiplying bottles from a couple of shuffling round holders.
Aside from those, most of the evening is devoted to circus-style acts performed to canned Christmas music, with a live singer (Audri Bartholomew) awkwardly joining in now and then.
So if a contortionist balancing herself on a partner’s head to “Jingle Bell Rock” or a guy bicycling and unicycling with stunts to “All I Want for Christmas is You” will put you in a festive mood, this is your show. How about juggling to a swing version of “Winter Wonderland” or a woman spinning herself within a circle to “O Holy Night” with a fuzz guitar?
If you’re wondering what connects all of this, not much. There is an endlessly ongoing gag—at least that is what it was likely thought to be on paper—of a timekeeper (Christopher Stoinev) not able to wind the clock controlling the passage of time and the seasons because the windup key breaks in two. Time does indeed seem to stop with this show, alas, long before the prop key is broken.
“A Magical Cirque Christmas,” at CIBC Theatre, 18 West Monroe, broadwayinchicago.com. Through December 11.