Category Archives: Entertainment

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Cirque du Soleil productions never cease to amaze and the company always finds a way to astound its audiences, no matter how many productions one sees.  A similarly-named company, “Cirque Productions,” creates competitive shows and does a good job with “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.”

For those of us spoiled by the big tent and large arena events of Cirque du Soleil (including both traveling and permanent shows), the question for a relatively smaller-scale indoor production limited by the stage size of even a large venue is, “How much dazzling can Cirque Productions do with heights limited to 40 feet and lengths limited to 100 feet?” — which is the case for the beautiful Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.  It turns out the production company can do a lot.

Relying on a constant stream of multiple levels of activity, “Holidaze” never stops — with one act seamlessly flowing into another.  And, as expected, some of the feats performed by the cast are as extraordinary as even a seasoned Cirque audience expects them to be.

The physicality of Cirque Productions is ever-present in “Holidaze” but the show uses singing performances to tightly weave together its stories.  There are ample interactions with the audience to make everyone feel they are as close to the production as one can be.  And the individual “dreams,” themselves, can be riveting at times.

Though Cirque audience veterans expect extraordinary feats of physicality — and “Holidaze” delivers — some of the most entertaining moments are unexpected.  One, in particular, does not involve typical Cirque out-of-this-world acrobatics; rather the audience is totally mesmerized when they watch a series of costume changes on stage which seem absolutely impossible to achieve in the seconds the performers are given.  It is one of the most amazing feats seen on a stage.

“Cirque Dreams Holidaze” is a production which no one in the family should miss.  If you see only one holiday production this year, “Holidaze” should be the only one on your list.

Tickets are available through Sunday, December 22nd, at www.DenverCenter.org or 303-893-4100.  Get them before they all disappear just like Cirque magic

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show,” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays , and on ION Television and COMCAST Entertainment Television as well as at www.HarberTV.com.  He has been involved in the arts for many years, including serving as the President of the Nancy Spanier Dance Theatre of Colorado, a member of the Boulder Philharmonic Board of Directors, and a cabinet member of the Macky Auditorium Renovation Fundraising Campaign for the University of Colorado.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2013 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber.  All rights reserved.
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“WICKED”

Review by Aaron Harber, Channel 3 (K3 Colorado KCDO-TV)

In a fabulous production which continues to thrill audiences, “WICKED” has returned to the Buell Theatre with a cast and set which make the musical worth seeing multiple times.  For those who are unaware of the “Wizard of Oz” prequel, “WICKED” offers insight into friendships, love, politics, and other forms of relationships — all packaged with great acting, phenomenal sets, and extraordinary singing.  There may not be a better national touring production to see in Denver for years to come.

The humor alone is worth the price of admission.  And one particular scene and song, “Popular,” performed by the not-always-so-Good Witch Glinda, in her younger years, is the highlight of the entire show.

Alli Mauzey, as “Glinda,” is simply amazing, and Mamie Parris, as “Elphaba” (the Wicked Witch), is equally marvelous.  Their voices, acting, ranges, and mannerisms all are so well-synchronized that each witch — good and bad — constantly leaves the audience spellbound.

What is so incredible is how “WICKED” is so funny yet deftly deploys its humor consistently to make us realize we don’t always know as much as we think.  Best of all, the ending both surprises and pleases those of us not familiar with this particular story.

Tickets still are available with performances ending on May 20th.  Call for tickets (303-893-4100) or go online to www.DenverCenter.org. This definitely is a “must-see show.”

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and at http://www.HarberTV.com.  He also hosts “Colorado Now! TM” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on Channel 3.  It can be viewed 24/7 at http://www.Colorado-Now.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2012 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber.  All rights reserved.
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“THE LIAR”

368-YEAR OLD COMEDY MORE RELEVANT THAN EVER

The modern adaptation of “The Liar” is more relevant than ever by showcasing both the intended and unintended effects of dishonesty in communications about relationships.  Frequently hilarious when showcasing how gullible we can be yet simultaneously poignant in how lies known as such often are tolerated, the falsehoods in “The Liar” seem obvious yet consistently are demonstrably effective in achieving the intended result of the scoundrel uttering them.

The comedy’s highlight is the ability of the main character, Dorante, to manufacture lies which initially are believable, in part, because they are so sincerely and exquisitely told.  As he digs himself into one hole after another, however, he finds himself forced to use even greater fabrications to temporarily save himself — a willingness to sacrifice the future for the immediacy of transitory comfort or ephemeral success today.

A magniloquent verbal Ponzi schemer, Dorente preys on his victims’ gullibility and robs them of their innocence.  Even those who see through his scheming somehow still manage to get ensnared in the fury of his whirlwind of lies.  With today’s political realm deeply implicated by insinuation, “The Liar,” unfortunately, is as relevant now as it was almost four centuries ago.  That may have been the attraction to the audience, which was surprisingly young for a playwright (Pierre Corneille) who died in 1684 and about whom few probably had been aware.

Go to www.DenverCenter.org or call (303) 893-4100 for tickets at the Denver Center’s intimate theater-in-the-round Space Theatre for ticket through October 16th.

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and at http://www.HarberTV.com.  He also hosts “Colorado Now! TM” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on Channel 3.  Both can be viewed 24/7 at http://www.Colorado2010.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2011 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber.  All rights reserved.
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“FREE RANGE THINKING” REVIEW

Whether you love or hate politics, “Free Range Thinking” is for everyone.  It challenges you by making you laugh at the absurdities of our world.  Perhaps the year’s most provocatively engaging production, it rapidly covers everything from religion to sex to politics to many of the other incongruities of life.

Nothing is sacrosanct as Robert Dubac combines an impressive array of comedic skills, physical comedy, historical knowledge, political analysis, philosophy, and even magic — all in the form of the multiple characters (all played or voiced by Dubac with great timing) who make us think and laugh about what life is all about.

Performed superlatively by Dubac (star of “The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?”) in the intimate setting of the Garner Galleria Theatre, every audience member gets to experience the physical closeness and emotional connections of Dubac’s stunning performance.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Democratic, Republican, independent or none of the above — anyone who even just superficially considers the meaning of life will enjoy “Free Range Thinking.”  And, if you’re a political junkie, this is the show for you to see after November 2nd.  Go to http://www.DenverCenter.org or call (303) 893-4100 for tickets through November 14th.

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and at http://www.HarberTV.com.  He also hosts “Colorado Election 2010 TM” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on Channel 3 and on Mondays at 8:00 pm on COMCAST Entertainment Television and is viewable 24/7 at http://www.Colorado2010.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2010 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber.  All rights reserved.

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“SOUTH PACIFIC” MINI-REVIEW

The national touring production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” — based on James Michener’s “Tales of The South Pacific” — effectively brings the islands alive and quickly takes you back more than half a century.  Within minutes of the curtain’s ascension, you believe you are in another place and time.  And for those fortunate enough to have treaded the sands of Kauai, where the film version was shot, the staging makes the production even more poignant.

The story remains as entertaining as it was when it debuted decades ago and the conflicting themes of war, love, honor, and family are vividly displayed.  However, it is how racism is so candidly, albeit transitorily, addressed which separates this production from so many others.  Even the contrasting May-December romances force the audience to confront issues which remain relevant today.

The 25-member orchestra adds a richness to the music which audiences appreciate but the voice of David Pittsinger (“Emile de Becque”) alone is worth the price of admission.  And Carmen Cusack’s “Nellie Forbush” dominates the production with the combination of her voice, acting, humor, and great looks.

Although familiar numbers such as “Some Enchanted Evening,” “There Is Nothing Like A Dame,” and “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” were performed superbly, the most arresting was, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.”
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With serious topics interwoven with dominantly humorous themes, “South Pacific” is great entertainment.  See more at http://www.SouthPacificOnTour.com and get tickets for performances through August 1st at http://www.DenverCenter.org.

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and at http://www.HarberTV.com.  He also hosts “Colorado Election 2010 (TM)” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on Channel 3 and on Mondays at 8:00 pm on COMCAST Entertainment Television and is viewable 24/7 at http://www.Colorado2010.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2010 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber  All rights reserved.

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MINI-REVIEW: “YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN”

It’s Better Than The Movie!


Those looking for a cast which includes the likes of Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Gene Hackman, and Madeline Kahn, among many others who starred in the 1974 movie “Young Frankenstein” might be disappointed but the extraordinary stage version quickly makes you forget the movie.

“Young Frankenstein” is a solid two hours of fun and laughs at everyone’s expense (including the English language).  The “live” version is an entirely different experience and easily overcomes the advantages of film.  Because you know what is real and what isn’t onstage, the live version is a superior experience in many respects.

With songs such as “Please Don’t Touch Me” — tied with the amazing production of “Puttin’ On The Ritz” as the best and funniest numbers of the night — when executed superbly (and “Inga,” played by Anne Horak, may be the best in the cast) and mingled with the ample breasts of the cast and male genitalia jokes (one expects both from Mel Brooks), the quickly-paced show keeps its audience thinking fast and laughing hard non-stop.

There is an extraordinary amount of creativity in “Young Frankenstein” — from the sets to the props — which, although are easily discerned by any theatergoer, keep being surprising.  “Young Frankenstein” plays at the Buell Theatre through June 27th.  Tickets can be purchased at http://www.DenverCenter.org.

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Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show TM” (www.HarberTV.com) seen at 8:00 pm on Sundays on KCDO-TV Channel 3 and “Colorado Election 2010 TM” seen Sundays at 8:30 pm on KCDO-TV and Mondays on COMCAST Entertainment Television at 8:00 pm and viewable 24/7 at http://www.Colorado2010.com.  Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com.  (C) Copyright 2010 by Aaron Harber and USA Talk Network, Inc.  All rights reserved.

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REVIEW: “IN THE HEIGHTS”

Family Theme Dominates

While “In The Heights” (www.InTheHeightsTheMusical.com) delivers the music, dancing, and humor one would expect from a production which won four Tony Awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album, the themes of real family values are what come through in a delightfully heartfelt way.  The corollary role of money in society and the impact it has on the path one takes in life also is adeptly exposed in the story set in a New York City barrio.

The show’s incredibly fast pace keeps the audience on its toes as evocative dialogue, intelligible rap, and fervent music are adroitly intertwined.  The stellar performances range widely with at least five cast members seemingly “stealing the show” from scene to scene.  It is an acting, dancing, and singing relay race with the performance baton being handed from one superb runner to an even better one time after time.

Only Stanford University alumni were likely to initially be disgruntled at the experience of one of the show’s stars when she dropped out due to poor grades and insufficient funds.  In real life, the University would have extended help on both fronts but that would have eliminated a key plot line.  But all was forgiven in the name of poetic license as the entire audience deservedly gave the cast a standing ovation.

“In The Heights” goes through May 9th and has matinée performances.  Tickets for the all-age show can be purchased at http://www.DenverCenter.org.