What you might want to know before the circus spectacle 'Cirque Dreams Holidaze' flies into the Oakdale

Theater producer Neil Goldberg could easily be mistaken for Santa Claus. A producer and director of modern circus entertainments, he delivers magic and wonderment around the country.

This month Goldberg’s been flying about, with reindeers and sleighs and a 24-foot Christmas tree, checking up on various touring companies of his “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.” The seasonal circus spectacle, which features aerialists, acrobats, balancing acts and other fine circus arts, is marking its 10th anniversary this year. “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” is at the Oakdale in Wallingford Dec. 14 to 16.

Goldberg’s Cirque Dreams company has been visiting Connecticut for decades, often at Mohegan Sun Resort Casino, but also at the Oakdale and elsewhere. Cirque Dreams has a large repertoire of 250 artists (more than 30 in each show) and numerous tours on the road at any given time, including “Cirque Dreams Revealed,” “Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy” and “Cirque Dreams Rocks.”

Goldberg gives us some “Holidaze” insight.

What’s behind the ‘Dream’

“I was always a dreamer. At school, I never looked at the blackboard. I was looking out the window at the clouds. I’m still that way. When I’m on a plane, I’m looking out the window at the clouds. I can see the possibilities — what can be, rather than what is. My career has found so many different platforms for me to express myself.

There’s as much irony in that as there is in me being a Jewish Orthodox kid who has a collection of more than 10,000 Christmas ornaments. I collect them wherever I go. Every ornament has a story. My ornaments served as the inspiration for every costume in ‘Cirque Holidaze’.”

‘Holidaze’ are for families, after all

“This truly is a great show for families. We get so many compliments along the lines of ‘I can never get my 5-year-old to sit still, and this time their eyes never left the stage.’ Kids are drawn in the magic of it, and adults are impressed with the artistry. It really does have something for everyone.”

Always an animal-free spectacle

“I’ve been an animal-free producer my entire career. The contemporary circus is just part of the entertainment landscape now. It manifests itself in many ways. People mainly come expecting acrobatic audacity.

“The “Holidaze” audiences are surprised to see such an elaborate set. This is a $1.5 million stage set. There’s a 24-foot, steel frame Christmas, with performers hanging from it like ornaments.”

The ‘Holidaze’ scene

“It’s a title I conjured up years ago. This is its 10th touring season, with five companies out this year. We’re visiting some markets year after year, others every few years. We change the show constantly — new acts, new music… It’s 90 minutes, with two acts and an intermission.

“Each scene takes you to a different place: the North Pole, angels on Holy Night, toy soldiers. For the Hanukkah scene there are candles balancing on somebody’s head. For New Year’s Eve there’s a contortionist inside a giant champagne glass. Reindeer pull a sleigh across the stage, then turn into jump-rope athletes.”

[There is also a] special “Country Holidaze” show, with cowboy hats, at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Most of the “Holidaze” tours are over around Christmas. Some are running through Jan. 7. New Year’s is a big part of it.

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The music

There are more than 30 performers, mostly circus artists but also including singers. We have tracked music with live vocals. There are all kinds of Christmas songs, including “Jingle Bell Rock.” I always loved the song “Deck the Halls” — it’s just about the beauty of the season, putting up decorations. I went to a composer and re-orchestrated a modern contemporary version of it. We really deck the halls.

New on the ‘Holidaze’ horizon

Right now, we’re working with the armed forces on a new tour of military bases for 2019. We did that two years ago and it was very popular, so we’re doing it again. There are some new projects that I can’t tell you about yet.

CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE runs Dec. 14 to 16 at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre, 95 South Turnpike Road, Wallingford. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $29 to $99. 203-269-8721, oakdale.com.

Read: More holiday happenings in Connecticut »

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