Highflying holiday cheer and hilarious high jinks are headed to Long Island.
On Sunday, Dec. 17, Cirque Musica Holiday’s new concert experience, “Believe,” stops at Nassau Coliseum for a single performance.
In this seasonal production, traditional big-top music gives way to holiday favorites carried out by a live symphony orchestra. The soundtrack stays true to such mainstays as “O Holy Night,” “Little Drummer Boy” and Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards in Winter.”
IN THE AIR
“Believe” features a world-renowned cast of daredevil athletic circus performers — acrobats, aerialists, clowns, contortionists — creating what producer Stephen Cook describes as “a feast both visually and sonically.”
“Believe” features a different local orchestra at each of its 25 or so stops, providing a soundtrack to the different acts. For its Long Island leg, the orchestra has been assembled with various New York-area musicians.
The symphony and cirque performers practice together just once before the big production. Though similar in style, Cirque Musica is produced by a different company than the internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil. What mainly separates the two is that Cirque Musica emphasizes the live orchestration throughout its circus acts.
The recurring cast and crew of 33 includes Ukrainian gymnasts, tumblers from Spain and classic circus/cirque acts such as the Wheel of Death.
ACTS YOU’LL SEE
The initial scene of “Believe” shows a family gathered around the dinner table on Christmas Eve. Each member is distracted by their cellphones and social media.
Soon after, the family is enlightened to hear Christmas bells that remind them to believe in the season.
“This sets the tone for the show, which has moments when bells ring and these ordinary people do extraordinary feats of grace, skill and balance,” Cook says.
Brie Cassil, the production’s solo vocalist, says “Believe” resonates with people because of its themes of love, family and togetherness.
“They’re completely wowed by what they see,” Cassil says. “People leave the show hopefully feeling warm and happy.”
Cassil has portrayed Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” and Mimi in the musical “Rent” in New York City productions.
The most well-received acts are two of the most over-the-top: the Wheel of Death and the hand-to-hand strongman stunt, which requires the strength of an Olympian, the balance of an acrobat and the poise of a ballet dancer.
For all its many tricks, the show ends with a simple reminder that “all we have to do is believe,” Cook says. This ties in with the larger goals of Cirque Musica — which are to provide family-friendly entertainment, invite people to “unplug” from life’s distractions and to enjoy each other’s company.
“I hope people take away the belief that they can do anything,” Cassil says. “Even the most ordinary person can become extraordinary.”