Northampton Press

Sunday, July 22, 2018
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ken ek“Tal: Beyond Imagination,” Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre, through July 28, Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Muhlenberg College, Allentown. Copyright - KENNETH EK CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ken ek“Tal: Beyond Imagination,” Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre, through July 28, Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Muhlenberg College, Allentown. Copyright - KENNETH EK

Theater Review: ‘Tal’ a treat for eyes, ears, mind at MSMT

Saturday, July 7, 2018 by DAWN OUELLETTE Special to The Press in Focus

“Tal: Beyond Imagination,” a joint production of Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre and Atlas Circus Company, is billed as a “world-premiere circus performance for kids, parents and everyone else.”

The show, continuing through July 28, Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, lives up to its billing as a show for all ages. Whether five, 15, or 55, audience members will love this dream-like production.

“Tal,” the brainchild of Noah Dach, founder of Atlas Circus Company, follows Tal (Shantell Cruz) as she searches for direction in her life. Should she work at her safe, tedious job or follow her artistic dreams?

Fairy-like characters surprise Tal as she works and transport her to a world of beauty, magic and imagination.

But even before the show begins, the actors entertain the waiting audience with physical comedy and clown-like performance. Tommy Walters and Michael Masse delight as The Controller and The Eccentric, respectively, interacting with theater-goers and reenacting the “Dirty Dancing” lift from the 1987 movie, much to the amusement of the audience.

Cruz makes Tal accessible and relatable, seeming like an “every girl.” Yet she soon realizes she is capable of being extraordinary, joining a team of female acrobats high above the audience. The dancers floating above the theater seats are truly a sight to behold. Their athleticism and grace is reminiscent of the famous Cirque du Soleil. It is mesmerizing.

The costumes of the dream world’s characters are something out of the turn-of-the-century, while the music is a mix of vintage American and French jazz and modern electronic dance music.

The combination of sights and sounds leaves never a dull moment for the audience. The children, parents and grandparents in the audience were wowed at every turn.

“Thrilling” is an apt word to describe the theater-going experience of “Tal.” The show, presented in the round, is surrounded by the audience on all sides. One feels a part of the action, as if simultaneously a part of and observing Tal’s dream.

It’s an immersive experience that won’t soon be forgotten. “Tal” is a true treat for the eyes, ears and mind.

“Tal: Beyond Imagination,” 10 a.m., 1 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday; 10 a.m., 6:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, through July 28 (10 a.m. only). “Tal” is recommended for adults and children ages 4 and up. Audience members are invited to stay after the performance to meet the cast and for a free 45-minute workshop of creative play, storytelling, and circus skills. Evening workshops focus on circus skills, including aerial and juggling. Reservations for workshops recommended. Tickets: Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance box office, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown; muhlenberg.edu/smt; 484-664-3333