By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 24, 2023 at 10:31 PM

Snuggle up with some holiday cheer as OnMilwaukee shares stories of everything merry and bright in the spirit of the season.

The OnMilwaukee Ho Ho Holiday Guide is brought to you by Educators Credit Union, Harley-Davidson Museum and MolsonCoors

After spending weeks in Milwaukee rehearing its first-ever holiday show, Cirque du Soleil opened "‘Twas the Night Before…” with two shows on Friday at the Miller High Life Theatre, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave.

Cirque du SoleilX

As is always the case with a Cirque show, the production – including the music, costumes, sets and effects – is top-notch. But, once again, the amazing skills of the performers are what you’ll really remember.

The show, which lasts about 90 minutes, is based on Clement Clarke Moore’s poem ‘’A Visit from Saint Nicolas,’’ which most of us know as "‘Twas the Night Before Christmas," and it’s the story of a girl who has outgrown her holiday tradition of reading the poem with her father ... or has she?

Cirque du SoleilX

A series of acts brings the poem to life with a heady mix of music, dance, acrobatics and fake snow ... lots of fake snow.

There are high-speed rollerskating virtuosi, a glowing diabolos act, a juggler, a bike acrobat, hoop divers and so much more.

Each time you’re amazed, the next act hits the stage and takes everything up a notch. One of the acrobats does her act suspended above the stage only by her hair.

Cirque du SoleilX

Though the cast, with just 16 men and 10 women (from 14 countries), is considerably smaller than some Cirque show casts, that doesn’t mean there’s any less excitement on stage.

The high-energy “‘Twas...” – which is suitable for all ages – was conceived and directed by Cirque du Soleil Senior Artistic Director James Hadley, who has skillfully woven the eye-popping acrobatics into a charming holiday story.

Cirque du SoleilX

Here are some interesting facts from Cirque du Soleil about the production, which has two touring troupes, one of which kicked off its tour right here in Milwaukee...

  • The show uses nearly five dump trucks worth of artificial snow in every performance.
  • The snow is cleaned and re-used in the next show.
  • The roller skaters can reach speeds of 30 mph while skating on a 350-pound platform that’s just 6 feet in diameter.
  • Eight diabolos are used in the diabolo act, and they can spin as fast as 20 times per second.
  • The hair suspension artist does about 100 turns in her performance – with spins as fast as seven times per second – and her hair can withstand 250 pounds of pressure.
  • The hoop divers dive through hoops placed as high as 10 feet above the stage and one that is just 18 inches in diameter.
  • A crew of 17 support staff spends 800 hours loading in and setting up 100 tons of equipment for the show, and another 200 hours loading it out.
  • The show uses so much cable that if all of it were lined up it would be five miles long.

There are still tickets left for the six remaining performances this weekend in Milwaukee before this touring group packs up and heads to its next stop.

Shows are Saturday and Sunday at noon, 3:30 and 7 p.m. Tickets are available here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.