Escape to a ‘Jungle Fantasy’
Audience members get to visit a wildly exotic jungle and meet its colorful creatures Friday when “Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy” comes to the Golden Nugget Casino Resort.
The show, which debuted on Broadway in 2008, features an international cast of soaring aerialists, spine-bending contortionists, acrobats, jugglers and musicians.
Director Neil Goldberg, who created this circus-like spectacle, said it’s an action-packed show with astounding feats that keep viewers at the edge of their seats. He admits to being nervous at times when watching certain parts, but said safety always comes first.
“I think one of the most dangerous scenes is one we call ‘Balancing Giraffe,’” he said, of the act in which a performer balances on cylinders stacked in opposite directions 15 feet up in the air. “The cylinders can slip or fall out from underneath the performer; it’s most risky and daring at the top when he spins in a full circle.”
Amazement and “disbelief that it can be happening,” are the usual reactions. “I hold my breath and then breathe a sigh of relief every time it’s done.”
Goldberg said, “We push the envelope as far as we can, but there is always a back-up plan for the things that can go wrong.” He stressed that the performers are all world-class acrobats and their bodies are conditioned to do these incredible stunts. “What looks scary to people in the audience may seem like second nature to the performers.”
Audience members can figure every minute of entertainment they see took two to three months of development, he said. Rehearsals continue until perfection is achieved, and then the performers must be sure to stay in shape — to be strong and limber enough to keep doing their thing.
Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy
When: 8:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Golden Nugget Casino Resort, 2550 Golden Nugget Blvd., Lake Charles, La.
Information: 337-508-7777, goldennugget.com
Does that mean they never eat pizza or ice cream?
“They eat pizza. They eat candy. They are so fit, they burn off so much energy,” he said. “Their regime is going to the gym first thing in the morning. Then the warm-up to the show starts four hours prior, that’s in addition to their morning exercises. If you do this, you can eat pizza every day.”
Even though the performers come from more than a dozen countries and speak many different languages, there is great camaraderie on the tour. “They find a commonality in the performance arena and on stage, and really come together as a family.”
About 20 artists are in the show, and there are 30 others working behind the scenes. Between the translators, coaches and technical support team, there’s as much of a show backstage as there is in front of the audience.