Cirque Christmas brings holiday thrills to Stamford

Magician Paul Dabek is certain A Magical Cirque Christmas will spread plenty of holiday cheer when it comes to southwestern Connecticut.

Paul Dabek will host A Magical Cirque Christmas at the Stamford Palace on Dec. 22. — Lou Baldanza photo

“It’s a real mix of the traditional feel-good Christmas vibe with modern, dynamic acts,” said Dabek, who hosts the touring show at Stamford’s Palace Theatre on Dec. 22 at 8 p.m.

The show features illusions, live music, comedy and cirque artists, such as acrobats, speed jugglers and contortionists.

“There certainly are death-defying acts in the show,” Dabek said.

Duo Transcend, finalists on America’s Got Talent this season, are among the cirque performers. The husband-and-wife aerialist team has performed with the world-famous Cirque du Soleil.

The holiday spectacle is being produced by the same people who brought The Illusionists to Broadway.

Dabek is considered one of the United Kingdom’s top entertainers, having performed on the stages of London’s West End. He’s used magic, comedy and his acting skills in front of audiences on six continents and headlined his own Las Vegas show.

Time Out magazine called Dabek “a superb showman” and the International Brotherhood of Magicians named him Young Magician of the Year.

A Magical Cirque Christmas will feature musicians playing familiar holiday tunes. — Lou Baldanza photo

He’s been fascinated with magic and performing since a young age, growing up as the son of working-class British parents who lived what he called “the standard 9-to-5 life.”

“Who knows where the attention-seeking gene came from?” Dabek said with a laugh during a recent interview from Los Angeles, where he now lives. “I’m probably unemployable in a normal job.”

He’s worked as a full-time magician since age 16. “I started touring the world at 19 and haven’t really stopped yet, visiting 82 countries,” he said.

Dabek is particularly known for his ability to mix magic with comedy, and that’s what he’ll do when emceeing the Magical Cirque Christmas show. “That’s my forte as well as doing an old art form called shadowgraphy, which involves hand shadows. People will get a glimpse of that in the show,” he said.

This will be Dabek’s second year with the Cirque Christmas show. “It’s really a show for the whole family,” he said. “There’s something for everyone, from age 4 to 104.”

As the emcee, Dabek talks with the audience, does magic and comedy, introduces the acts, and encourages audience interaction. The show lasts about two hours, including an intermission.

One of the unique aspects of the show is the troupe’s diversity, with performers coming from China, Ethiopia, Germany, Mexico, the Ukraine, United States and United Kingdom.

Lou Baldanza photo

Dabek said people in a touring show form close bonds due to all the traveling and the intense schedule, especially during the holiday season. “When on the road and away from your family, it becomes your second family, so to speak, both on and off stage,” he said.

Duo Transcend features the married couple, Tyce and Mary Nielsen, who met while performing as high divers in a cliff diving show. In addition to their strong showing on NBC-TV’s America’s Got Talent, their show credits include Circus Flic Flac and the Great American Variety Show.

They do duo trapeze as well as duo roller skating, which is a combination of acrobatic tricks and roller-skating mastery. “It has to be seen to be believed,” Dabek said.

Another troupe member, magician Sebastian Nicolas, received the Mandrake d’Or Award from the French Academy of Illusionists, a prize won earlier by such famous magicians as David Copperfield and Siegfried & Roy. His specialty is manipulation.

Runfei Deng and Shilei Chen are the Swan Prince and Princess. They perform Ballet on Shoulder, with the ballerina atop her partner, using somersaults, jujitsu, ballet and dance.

Speed juggler Roberto Carlos has appeared on Britain’s Got Talent, won awards at the International Circus Festival, and been featured in Cirque du Soleil productions.

The TT Boys, Tamrat and Tomas, have performed their Icarian Games act from the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, to Dollywood Park in Tennessee. Anna Ostapenko, a contortionist, was part of Cirque du Soleil companies for 14 years. Sarah Togni performs on the rotating Cyr wheel and Oleksiy “Alex” Mruz on the rola bola board.

The show includes singers and instrumentalists performing favorite Christmas carols. “It really is good old-fashioned family entertainment in a super up-to-date production,” Dabek said.

For more information about A Magical Cirque Christmas, visit PalaceStamford.org.

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