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Cirque du Soleil gets festive with first-ever holiday show

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Cirque du Soleil gets festive with first-ever holiday show
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Mason plays Isabella in “’Twas the Night Before...” PHOTO: BRANDON TODD, MSG ENTERTAINMENT

Cirque du Soleil gets into the festive spirit this year with “’Twas the Night Before… ,” the company’s first-ever holiday show, playing at the Boch Center Wang Theatre through Dec. 11. The performance will have all the fantastical and acrobatic wonders of a typical Cirque du Soleil show but with a family-friendly narrative anchoring the show.

“’Twas” tells the story of Isabella, a young girl who feels she’s outgrown her family holiday traditions in favor of catchy TikTok videos. When the magic of the poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” begins to come to life around her, Isabella is reunited with her father and the holiday spirit.

Elizabeth (Lizzie) performs as Lizzie in Mason in Cirque du Soleil’s “’Twas the Night Before…” COURTESY PHOTO

Dancer Elizabeth (Lizzie) Mason is new to Cirque, and she’s delighted to debut the holiday performance. “They get taken into this world where, one by one, each of these characters shows Isabella back towards her spark and the spark between herself and her father and their Christmas traditions,” she says. “You’ll see fantastic aerialists, you’ll have great dance numbers from us, you’ll have fantastic acro-tricks. There are skaters doing all types of tricks on their skates.”

Cirque du Soleil is the largest contemporary circus producer in the world and has become known for its elaborate performances and fantastic feats. “’Twas” showcases many of those, including an artist dancing in the air suspended by their hair, two aerial performances connected only by straps, a roller-skating number reaching 30 miles per hour, acrobats diving through hoops 10 feet in the air, and much more.

Members of Kinjaz Dance Crew perform in “’Twas the Night Before…” PHOTO: KYLE FLUBACKER, MSG ENTERTAINMENT

The holiday theme isn’t the only new aspect to this Cirque show. “There’s definitely some more diversity and learning how to incorporate different styles into a fantastic show,” says Mason. “We are really able to tell the story through fun, urban, contemporary hip-hop moves.” The increased diversity in both the dance styles and the performers brings a more inclusive and global edge to the Canadian troupe.

The new show includes 41 pieces of music — 29 original compositions and 12 classic holiday tunes that composer and musical director Jean-Phi Goncalves revisited and revamped for the show.

Theater has always been an important marker of the holiday season for Mason. She grew up dancing in “The Nutcracker” and watching her performer siblings in their winter shows. She hopes some of that seasonal magic will be transferred to Cirque du Soleil’s audiences. She says, “I hope people take away that sense of wonder and really remember what Christmas is all about.”