'Cirque Dreams' pageantry built on talented cast

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After more than 15 years and a dozen productions, Neil Goldberg, the founder and producer of the Cirque Dreams shows, believes he has a handle on the nature of spectacle.

His latest, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, will be staged Monday at Bell Auditorium.

Mr. Goldberg began his career in marketing and public relations, specializing in staging corporate events. He became interested in cirque, the European version of circus arts, when he contracted with performers for a product unveiling. He said witnessing such a strong response in a corporate environment convinced him of the entertainment potential of a cirque-style show.

"Today we do this very well, perhaps better than anyone in the world," Mr. Goldberg said during a recent telephone interview. "That's because we have been doing this since 1993 and have always been focused on this.

''We stay true to the theatrics of this. It isn't about technology. It isn't about special effects. It's about the artistry."

Mr. Goldberg said designing the shows involves searching the world for performers with very specific talents and building shows that highlight other performers who Cirque Dreams considers noteworthy.

"That's part of the passion that goes into what we do," he said. "When I started this, there were three people in this company. Today, there are 140."

Mr. Goldberg said the nature of cirque performance makes his casting an international affair. He said part of the pleasure of Cirque Dreams is the show's ability to erase borders, to dissolve religious, ideological and social differences.

"They are an extended part of my own family," he said. "And I am very proud of them. I'm very proud that we can pack a show of this caliber onto a truck, set up in the morning, and by 5 p.m. have the performers warming up on their stage, in their home."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.


WHAT: Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.

COST: $44-$54; (706) 724-2400

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