BWW Interviews: Neil Goldberg Talks Directing CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE
Director, Neil Goldberg has created CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE, a perfect holiday show with a cast of over 30 talented and beautifully costumed artists who perform astonishing feats. Experience gingerbread men flipping mid air, toy soldiers marching on thin wires, snowmen daringly balancing, icemen powerfully sculpting, penguins spinning, puppets dancing and reindeer soaring high above a landscape.
LAW: Where are you, and what are you doing today?
NG: I'm in Fort Lauderdale. I have three HOLIDAZE tours going. I'm also working with our government, because we have shows for the service members and their families. And we're getting ready for the Norwegian Cruise Line Breakaway show.
LAW: You must have a very creative spirit. What got you started to producing Cirque Dream shows?
NG: I grew up on the south shore of Long Island. I was six years old and my parents took me to see the Broadway show "The Miracle Worker" on Broadway. I enjoyed the performance, but I was more interested in the sets, the technical aspects of how the house moved. I went home and started to make sets with shoeboxes.
LAW: What did your parents do?
NG: What did my parents do with me, or what did they do for a living?
LAW: A living?
NG: My parents owned retail textile stores.
LAW: What was your most exciting moment producing a production?
NG: I went to C.W. Post College on Long Island for theater arts and set designing, but I needed work and went to work for a textile manufacturing company, United Merchants and Manufacturers in Manhattan, as a textile designer. They had me relocate to Florida. I had connections with corporate America and I was asked to produce a show for IBM. I was handed a business card from a man attending. It was from Balley's Atlantic City. A few months later, I was producing the show there "Cirque Ingénue". And then it went from there to touring cities.
LAW: How hands-on are you?
NG: The buck stops here. I have a casting department. They know what to look for. Fifty applications will come in. I see about 5 of those. I have 125 employees.
LAW: Tell me about your place in Florida.
NG: It's in Pompano Beach. It has 40,000 square feet to house the costumes and have a rehearsal space that duplicates the stages we perform in.
LAW: How do you envision a show? How does your process start?
NG: Well for HOLIDAZE, I was inspired by my ornament collection. When I was a child growing up in Oceanside, I would walk home from the Yeshiva and I would pick the ornaments that were left on the discarded Christmas trees in my neighborhood. I would also take the tinsel. My mother threw out the tinsel, but she let me keep the ornaments. As a Jewish kid, I have always been fascinated by ornaments. My collection has grown.
In HOLIDAZE, there are living ornaments on a huge 30' steel Christmas tree on stage. We have 300 costumes in the show.
LAW: How many numbers are in Holidaze, what is your favorite visually?
NG: There are 18 scenes. Every scene is visual and lasts about 4 minutes. I think my favorite is the beginning, the first minute, the stage is set. I love that.
LAW: How many performers are in the show? Do they rotate or do they perform in each show?
NG: The performers enjoy what they do. They do a show, they rest and they are ready to get back out there for every performance and do it again.
LAW: Where do you find the talent?
NG: Ethiopia, Germany, Russia. 8 to 10 different countries.
LAW: What do you think the audience will take away as the message of the show?
NG: The show will bring a smile to your face. It's a perfect show for three generations. For the kids, parents and grandparents.
LAW: What's the most fun about being on the road?
NG: The work, the passion, artists are dreamers. The possibilities. I've touched a lot of people's lives.
LAW: What's the worst about being on the road?
NG: When the power goes out. Live theater is spontaneity. 'Living on The Edge.
LAW: After Charlotte where does the tour go, what cities?
NG: Upstate NY and Redding, Pennsylvania.
LAW: Wow, what do you do to keep up your energy?
NG: I workout a lot, lift weights and I play the piano.
LAW: Do audiences react differently in different cities?
NG: The young audiences scream. The older ones watch. There is non-stop amazement.
LAW: Tell me about your foundation.
NG: It's the Neil Goldberg Dream Foundation. I started it 4 years ago. A portion of every ticket sale goes to support the arts and young people. It's so important for young people to have access to the arts.
LAW: Do you have any thoughts that you would like to mention about something I didn't ask?
NG: No you covered it. I hope you will get a chance to see the show.
LAW: I will, I'm bringing my son.
NG: Happy Holidays!
CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE plays Blumenthal Performing Arts Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts, 430 South Tryon Street, December 18-23, 2012. Call Blumenthal Box Office for tickets: 704-372-1000.