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Review: A Wintuk wonderland

Holler! Polish up the patent leather and get the brass buttons gleaming—Wintuk, Cirque du Soleil's latest epic journey, swept into town Wednesday night with a star-studded opening. Okay, so I spent a fair amount of time scoping out the stars (the guy sitting on my left peed next to Val Kilmer—twice!), but whilst gazing, I have to admit that after a while, it was the kids who caught my eye. From the beginning of the show, almost every child was rapt. And I don't blame them.

It's the first Cirque show created just for kids—as noted by its venue (the Theater at Madison Square Garden), which is pint sized in comparison to the show's usual digs at the big top on Randall's Island. But, while the death-defying stunts are scaled down to fit the space, the thrill remains the same and, in some cases, is enhanced by an intimacy that's reminiscent of the company's street-theater origins—and often lost in the space of a larger-than-life-sized tent. They've also made the show's token acrobatics hip by intermixing them with break dancing and super-cool X-game-style bike, skateboarding and roller-blading stunts. Although the story, as per Cirque's style, is vague and about a half-hour too long, it's worth sticking it out, especially since it's narrated by crazy talking lampposts that look like they're straight out of a Terry Gilliam film—that or an LSD trip (same thing?).

In the end, there were a few grumbles from adults who didn't get it, but the utterly satisfied look on just about every snowflake-covered kid leaving the theater spoke for itself—take your kids to see it.

Wintuk runs Thu 1--Jan 6 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

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