Onstage at the Curran Theatre in a sadly short run, the thrilling, unpretentious, and yes, at times cheesy, show is packed with amazing stunts, near-blinding glitter and sprightly, if uninspired, music.
The wonderfully old-fashioned extravaganza is directed and created by Neil Goldberg, head of a "Cirque Dreams" factory of sorts in Pompano Beach, Fla. With nearly a dozen "Cirque Dreams" shows in the franchise, this two-hour Christmas edition is a hoot from start to finish.
What could be more charming than four reindeer skipping rope in perfect unison to a driving rendition of "Winter Wonderland"? The athletic, agile cast members, all appearing as holiday-themed characters or objects, come from all over the globe.
The show opens with a Russian team, stilt-walker Sergey Korolev operating a marionette, tiny Alexandra Koroleva, who flips and bends as easily as Gumby.
"Flying Ornaments" are Mongolian sisters Buyankhishig and Erdenesuvd Ganbaatar, who spin in the air, on rings, intertwining their bodies in amazing ways. In the second act, the mind-blowing contortionists come back as ice princesses.
Ukrainian lookalikes Andrii and Mykola Pysiura, dressed as jesters in blue and pink, display super-human balance and strength. Equally amazing are jugglers: "toe tapper" Irina Guseva, tossing huge pieces of candy with her feet, and lumberjack Rony Gomez Pupo, who bounces balls off the floor and in the air in truly original style.
Victor Dodonov from Latvia does two crazy balancing tricks: he builds a candelabra on the bridge of his nose, and later, is a wobbly penguin, hovering on a high-stacked teeterboard.
Among the show's exciting airborne artists are "dangling ribbon" Andrey Lyamin, who pairs with "flying angel" Olena Lyamina in the "Holy Night" closing act.
There's magic, too, with a one-of-a-kind appearing-and-disappearing act. "Fashionista" Olga Smirnova's attire changes, many times, in less than an instant, after she enters a big box, or at the wave of a billowing piece of fabric, controlled by her partner Vladimir Smirnov.
Even the clown is funny: "Maestro" Billy Jackson leads four willing, enthusiastic folks from the audience in a crowd-pleasing bell-ringing concert.
Yet the show's piece de resistance may be the Act 1 closer: As big gingerbread-boy Samail Haftu, on his back, using his feet, tosses little gingerbread-boy Amanual Hayle in the air countless times, the company builds a gingerbread house, and a huge, "Shrek"-inspired gingerbread man, blows up, filling the back of the stage.
Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Where: Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. today, 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $45 to $160
Contact: (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com