Wintuk in New York

image courtesy of Cirque du Soleil
Anyone familiar with the pomp and pageantry of a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas might find the company's current act at the WaMu Theater in New York a tad mellow. It's Cirque du Soleil alright but on a lesser scale: Wintuk is hailed as a holiday show for kids and family, not like its artsy brethren that adults queue for in the Sin City. I can't help therefore but remember being awed by the sheer magnitude of human prowess and skill I saw in O (at Bellagio), Ka (at MGM Grand) and Mystere (at Treasure Island). Even Celine Dion's A New Day (which will close Dec. 15 at Caesar's Palace) was a spectacular aural and visual delight.

Cirque du Soleil's previous limited engagements in New York have been at Randall Island where they set up large tents. This one at WaMu, within Madison Square Garden, isn't really the best place to conduct acrobatics, especially the aerial kind. It feels cramped and so the stage feels more vertically challenged when the show starts with skateboarders on a vert ramp. I wouldn't have been surprised if one of them hit the ceiling instead.

The story is about Jamie, a young boy in search of snow during winter in a city. Don't even think this has got to do with "global warming" consciousness, it's just that. In between Jamie's long search for the white stuff from the skies, he meets colorful characters - some with terrific talents (the contortionist; the juggler; the tightrope walker; the pole jumpers) and some truly larger than life (the swaying, singing lampposts; the man-sized sheepdogs; the puppets resembling giant ice monsters). As if meant to astound kids all the more (and some adults too), the spectacle ends with a snowstorm of confetti all over the theater, signifying the arrival of snow. It's one big deluge of paper cut outs and a real mess for the janitors.

As usual, Wintuk delivers stirring, new-age music - the kind I truly like, with some bland vocals. The costumes are signature Cirque du Soleil - in other words, money was really spent in that department. Perhaps if this show was staged somewhere bigger, then Wintuk would have been seen with more daring, edgy acrobatics.

runs until Jan. 6, 2008 at WaMu Theater at the Madison Square Garden. Tickets are from $50-$200.

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