There is something I have to admit before writing a review of a Christmas concert. I’m a bit of a Grinch, especially when it comes to Christmas music.
To say my heart grew three sizes while watching the Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular would be an overstatement, not to say a bit cliché, but there was enough variety in the mix of music, acrobatics and flying violinists that even this Christmas curmudgeon got some enjoyment out of the affair.
The show started off with a lovely dash through almost every Christmas song imaginable by the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, who swept in and out of condensed versions of classic carols.
However, after the initial song the orchestra quickly became the background music to the daredevil feats of the Wallenda Highwire Duo and the Espana Family among others.
It’s hard not to sit on the edge of your seat when seeing some of the acrobatics featured in the Cirque Musica show, if not just out of the natural fear for another human being’s safety. Some acts were more impressive than others, including those that had performers dangling high above the stage, spinning and twirling with only a rope or a plastic hoop keeping them in the air. Others only amounted to impressive, though not all that entertaining, feats of balance and strength, like watching an Olympic gymnast event set to Christmas music.
A tip of my hat to the OSO whose background accompaniment fleshed out many of the acts with musical cues and some impressive bits of timing considering they had only a day of rehearsal to get it down.
Vocalists Scott Coulter and Christine Lafond brought musical depth to the stage, and their presence reminded me of the type of Christmas variety shows I saw on TV when I was younger. They popped in and out of the show performing songs and adding diversity between acts.
The show also featured a sometimes-comedic host who started off looking like Buddy Holly painted with a Christmas brush. He began the show with a grumpy distaste for holiday cheer much like my own, but by the end of the night he wore a full Santa suit and was accompanied by a young, and very talented, elf.
There was an almost obligatory performance of Let It Go from the phenomenon that is Frozen, which I was surprised to see didn’t send the younger audience members into a frenzy, however Lafond hit the more arduous notes in the song with pinpoint precision.
The most out of place act was a cowboy who took lasso tricks and bullwhip cracking to a level I didn’t know existed. Though it was contrasting to the Christmas theme it was entertaining and definitely a crowd pleaser.
I may not have run down to Whoville to sing hand in hand with the local residents at the end of the show, but if this Grinch found enjoyment in the Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular, I’m sure it would be a winter wonderland for the people who start putting their lights up in October.
Dale Boyd is the arts and entertainment editor at the Penticton Western News.