Contorting "lizards" move to the music of the violin played by Jared Burnett as Sultree in "Cirque Dreams: Jungle Fantasy."
Violin brings magical jungle to life
The dreams of a clown help bring to life an enchanted jungle that reveals a strikingly visual panoply of European-inspired circus acts.
'Cirque Dreams: Jungle Fantasy'
Place: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Time: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through May 8 (with special kids event on the concert hall lawn at 6 p.m. Wednesday); 8 p.m. May 9; 2 and 8 p.m. May 10; 2 and 7 p.m. May 11
Tickets: $30 to $57.50
Call: 591-2211 or visit ticketmaster.com
Considering that premise's inherent theatricality, it's no surprise that the "Jungle Fantasy" production from Cirque Dreams, a successful American variant of the Canada-originated Cirque du Soleil, is heading to a limited engagement on Broadway starting in mid-June. But before then, the traveling company will be stopping off in Hawaii for six consecutive days at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
One cast member looking forward to both extended stays in the islands and the Big Apple is Jared Burnett. Burnett plays the magical Sultree, who, when playing his electric violin, brings the jungle creatures to life.
"I'm one of the original cast members who've been with the show since March of 2006," he said from his home city of Orlando, Fla. Burnett, who he plays a special six-string violin made by Mark Wood of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra rock band, says his role is also a physically demanding one.
"While most musicians in a stage show are usually in the orchestra pit or behind the scenes, I'm on stage 90 percent of the time during this show, and incorporated into the acts. For instance, in this one act, I get onto a contortionists' table, and one of the girls wraps herself around me. I then walk off stage with her while I'm still playing."
Burnett started learning the violin via the Suzuki method at the tender age of 3. But while he guested with orchestras around the world while growing up, there was show biz in his veins. In fact, he was discovered by a talent scout from Cirque Dreams while performing in the Devil Went Down to Georgia stage show at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando.
"The talent scout told me I should meet with the owners and directors of Cirque Dreams. After they got a taste of what I can do in performance, they signed me on, and I started playing with them in February '06. This is the first time I've worked on a show of this caliber. ... It's close to two hours long, and it's very challenging and requires a lot of flexibility on my part."
Burnett worked with musical director Jill Winters to write all the melody lines in "Jungle Fantasy." "She gave me the artistic freedom on how I wanted them to work in my violin playing."
The show has an entertaining array of trapeze and aerialist artists, acrobats, contortionists and jugglers from all over the world with, as Burnett describes, "over 150 different costumes, over 8,000 watts of UV lighting, and all geared to audiences from 4 to 94. It's a very family-friendly show. While the kids can enjoy all the athleticism, the adults can appreciate the European artistry of the circus. Plus, if I do say so myself, the musical score is important to the show, as it is its driving force."