Cirque du Soleil

Dinner and a Show: Cirque Dreams

Dinner and a Show: Cirque Dreams

When Norwegian Cruise Line wanted the show of all shows, it knew exactly whom to turn to: Cirque founder Neil Goldberg

By Patricia Kutza

It’s been called a mash-up of Moulin Rouge and the circus. But guests aboard Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Breakaway are often speechless when they try to capture the Cirque Dreams & Dinner experience in words. “Fabulous,” “exciting,” and “unbelievable” are frequently used adjectives. And as many times as he hears these words used to describe the Cirque Dreams brand of entertainment, Cirque’s founder Neil Goldberg is not yet ready to rest on these superlatives.

Considered a visionary among his peers, Goldberg designs spellbinding productions that combine acrobatics with mime, with actors swathed in some of the most spectacular costumes seen on stage or screen. That many of these shows are often created for venues that present extraordinary physical challenges, such as cruise lines and, more recently, amusement parks, is a testament to Goldberg’s tenacity and determination to not only meet but also welcome these challenges head on.

What impresario wouldn’t shrink at the prospect of producing an entire show that is only a hair’s breadth away from the audience’s gaze? Yet that’s exactly the type of challenge that Goldberg embraced when he decided to create his show-in-the-round experience, the Cirque Dream & Dinner show, aboard the two Norwegian ships. And because he appreciated the extraordinary level of intimacy that these shows would create with cruisers, he left nothing to chance.


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At the 20,000-square-foot Dream Studios complex located at Cirque Dreams headquarters in Pompano Beach, Florida, Goldberg built a replica of the Norwegian showroom. Here, every part of the show would be designed, choreographed, molded, sculpted, practiced, and refined within the boundaries of this simulated space, replete with “stand-in” diners who would give feedback from their vantage points. Since the set was co-located with Cirque’s design department, costume designers had the means at their fingertips to test designs from concept to use. This was no small feat since more than fifty unique costumes alone were created for the Norwegian shows.

But even if you have the wherewithal to create such a space, the question still remains: How do you develop the kind of mind that conjures up the wild and often wacky hats, footwear, pants, tops, shirts, and dresses that make Cirque Dreams & Dinner such a delicious smorgasbord for the eyes? While some celebrated costume designers acknowledge the influence of iconic designers past and present, Goldberg is quick to note that most of his inspirations come from simply observing life around him.

And what an interesting past he draws from. Raised as an orthodox Jew in New York, Goldberg understood early not only the constraints but also the benefits of a strict lifestyle. It was a Broadway production….

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