British comic and magic sensation Paul Dabek knows from experience that even nowadays kids still say the darndest things, especially when they're in front of a large audience.
So Dabek, who is hosting "A Magical Cirque Christmas" at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale on Dec. 14, expects that the leaping, high-flying, laugh-packed Christmas show might be stolen — at least for a moment — when he makes “a star out of one or two children in the audience” to join him for a little friendly magical banter.
“Any time you bring children on stage it just keeps it so fresh,” said Dabek, a past winner of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Young Magician of the Year award.
“They come out with the greatest things, so I like to give them their moment to shine while gently ribbing them at the same time,” Dabek said by telephone from St. Louis, a stop on the show's 34-city tour.
"A Magical Cirque Christmas" features an international roster of trapeze artists, jugglers, acrobats and magicians performing to traditional holiday tunes. “From a programming perspective, we wanted to focus on bringing in festive family-friendly entertainment that celebrates the spirit of the season in a big way,” said Nick Vaerewyck, vice president of programming for the Coliseum.
Dreaming of a red, green and white Christmas
Despite its name, "A Magical Cirque Christmas," isn’t a Cirque Du Soleil offering but is instead produced by MagicSpace Entertainment of Park City, Utah, and Simon Painter and Tim Lawson, creators of the Broadway hit "The Illusionists."
“I’m going to be standing on one hand and rotating on canes, to my music, ‘Santa Baby,’ ” said Anna Ostapenko, a hand-hand-balancer and contortionist from Ukraine who lives in Montreal. Costumed in what she calls “Christmas-y red, green and white colors,” Ostapenko said “Everything is very festive, and at the end of our show snow falls from the ceiling — it’s absolutely beautiful.”
Also on the bill are speed juggler Roberto Carlos of Mexico; Italian acrobat Sarah Togni, who performs her stunts inside a giant metal ring; and The TT Boys of Ethiopia, who juggle with their feet while executing midair somersaults.
Also performing in midair, albeit from a higher altitude, are Tyce and Mary Nielsen, the Salt Lake City-based husband-and-wife trapeze and roller-skating team known as Duo Transcend, who were finalists on season 13 of “America's Got Talent.”
Back on the ground, magician Sebastian Nicolas of Germany will also perform sleight-of-hand tricks.
The host with the most
Dabek’s act includes hand puppetry, with the magician weaving a story around about a dozen animal characters he creates with shadows. He’s also a master of tricks with currency (both British pounds and U.S. dollars), and playing cards that spin across the stage and over the audience’s heads.
But Dabek doesn’t like his jokes to go over his audience’s heads. For fresh comedy material with a local spin he said he’ll arrive on Long Island early on show day “to wander around and see if there’s any inspiration.”
“My job is to keep the show rolling along and keep a feel of Christmas going,” Dabek says. “I do a little research … to throw an Englishman’s view on some of the local characteristics.”
'A Magical Cirque Christmas'
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale
INFO $38.50-$73.50; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com