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Theater review: ‘Atomic Holiday Free Fall’ at the Actors’ Gang

December 15, 2011 |  1:30 pm

Atomic Holiday
Is Cirque du Soleil’s de facto Occupy Vegas coup the product of an extraterrestrial invasion? That’s the whimsical alternate reality explanation offered in the sci-fi themed “Atomic Holiday Free Fall,” the latest incarnation of veteran Cirque performer/director Stefan Haves’ ever-mutating Your Town Follies revue. Launched this time out in collaboration with the Actors’ Gang, the variety show continues to entertain, though at times the eclectic mix of companies feels more like atomic fission than fusion.

Your Town Follies leverages Haves’ Cirque connections, enlisting extraordinary talents from the troupe’s various Las Vegas and touring shows — dancers, acrobats, clowns, jugglers, and other iconic cabaret acts — in vaudeville-inspired back-to-basics stagings that emphasize raw physical prowess over elaborate technical effects. As in Your Town Follies past, some acts will remain constant through the run — notably gravity-defying aerialist Eric Newton, gifted comedienne Kasey Wilson, a bevy of fetchingly choreographed Atomic showgirls, and lead singer Karen Blake heading up Philip Giffin’s versatile band.

Others will change nightly; the reviewed guest lineup included a graceful and poetic ballet by Sebastien Stella and Katia Sereno, tap dancer Sarah Reich hoofing her way along “Route 66,” and Haves reprising his brilliantly expressive “Back Man” character created from his inverted torso.

Less satisfying is the interactive staging and framing narrative about some time-traveling aliens from Planet Cirque, whose mission to become entertainers takes them to 1960s Vegas and Memphis; their interludes really suffer in comparison with the high-caliber Cirque acts.

-– Philip Brandes

“Atomic Holiday Free Fall,” The Ivy Substation, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City. 8 nightly through Dec. 23, expect Sunday, plus Dec. 31. $35. (310) 838-4264 or www.theactorsgang.com. Running time: 90 minutes.

Photo: Stefan Haves. Credit: Nathan Kornelis

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