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Theater

'Magical Cirque Christmas' dazzles with music, illusions, acrobatics

| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, 12:03 a.m.

Paul Dabek says it’s impossible not to feel festive at a production of “A Magical Cirque Christmas.”

The show created by the producers of Broadway’s hit show, “The Illusionists,” aims to dazzle audiences with a fast-paced mix of magic, music, illusions and acrobatics.

The touring production stops in Pittsburgh for one performance presented by Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 in the Benedum Center.

“The great thing about the show is, one minute you’re listening to beautiful Christmas ballads, the next moment you’re filled with adrenalin watching death-defying feats taking place before your eyes,” says Dabek, who contributes his share of magic as host of the show.

International cast

An international cast of performers features magician Sebastian Nicolas from Germany, speed juggler Roberto Carlos from Mexico, shoulder ballet acrobats Runfei Deng and Shilei Chen from China and husband-and-wife trapeze team Duo Transcend (Mary Ellen Wolfe and Tyce Nielsen) from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Wolfe and Nielsen are trapeze artists and acrobatic roller skaters who were finalists on this season’s “America’s Got Talent.” In “A Magical Cirque Christmas,” they are in the spotlight in their “Duo Trapeze” act, in which they perform a romantic aerial dance, and in “Duo Roller Skating,” performing acrobatic spins and tricks while balancing on a small circular platform.

Carlos has showcased his speed juggling skills on “Britain’s Got Talent,” has won both the Public Award and St. Petersburg Award at the International Circus Festival and has been featured in Cirque du Soleil productions of “Varekai” and “Joyá.”

Inspiration for success

Dabek, a comedian, actor and professional magician for 16 years, says he grew up watching illusionists David Copperfield and Matt King and was also inspired by actors and comedians Robin Williams and Jim Carey.

The London-born performer, now living in Los Angeles, has performed on six continents, including the stages of London’s West End, and headlined his own show in Las Vegas. He has received “Young Magician of the Year” honors from both the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians, who have recognized Paul’s talent, naming him “Young Magician of the Year” and awarding him the British Shield.

He says part of his role as host and emcee of “A Magical Cirque Christmas” is to engage theater-goers in the production.

“My job is to break that wall between us and the audience,” he says. “I invite kids to come on stage to be part of the opening of the show – and you never know what’s going to happen with kids.”

After being on the road during the holidays with “Magical Cirque Christmas,” Dabek will join the U.S. spring tour of “The Illusionists.”

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

British-born comedian, actor and professional magician Paul Dabek (center) is the host of “A Magical Cirque Christmas,” Dec. 13 in Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center.
British-born comedian, actor and professional magician Paul Dabek (center) is the host of “A Magical Cirque Christmas,” Dec. 13 in Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center.
Shoulder ballet acrobats Runfei Deng and Shilei Chen from China are part of an international cast of performers in “A Magical Cirque Christmas,” Dec. 13 in Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center.
Submitted
Shoulder ballet acrobats Runfei Deng and Shilei Chen from China are part of an international cast of performers in “A Magical Cirque Christmas,” Dec. 13 in Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center.
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