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Mr Imagine’s hotel of dreams runs until 7 January at the Soho CaixaBank theatre in Malaga. Ñito Salas
The circus comes to town with Imagine: acrobatics and technology made in Malaga
Theatre

The circus comes to town with Imagine: acrobatics and technology made in Malaga

A joint production by Antonio Banderas and Producciones Merlín bring together 30 artists and 200 square metres of screen to create a circus-style show at Soho CaixaBank theatre

Regina Sotorrío

Malaga

Friday, 8 December 2023, 12:42

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With an international cast and overseas funding, one might assume that Cirque des Sens has come from afar for a season run in Malaga, but the company is very much in its home city.

Imagine, el Camino Hacia los Sueños (Imagine, the Road to Dreams), premiered at Antonio Banderas's Soho CaixaBank theatre this week. Created by local production company Merlín, Imagine is a circus show adapted for a theatre space without losing the best bits of the tricky stuff. This is another example of the close collaboration that exists between Merlín and Banderas, an alliance that will be even stronger in 2024 with the opening of the Sohrlin academy for all the technical skills demanded by the performing arts.

And so, Mr Imagine's hotel of dreams opened its doors at the city centre location on 6 December and runs to 7 January (ticket prices start at 28 euros).

Ñito Salas

The concept for the show, directed by Domingo Sánchez, better known as Domingo Merlín, overcomes the limitations of performing within a theatre, rather than a big top, with the help of technology.

Almost 200 square metres of screens frame the stage, projecting very realistic, digitally created and immersive backdrops, which swiftly take the audience from one scene to another (the different floors in the imaginary hotel).

Acrobats and jugglers

Thus the stage is freed up for all the acrobatics, leaping and juggling of around 30 artists. All play their part in the show's plot, suitable for audiences of all ages and languages (there is very little dialogue), inviting us to remember the dreams that we might have left along life's journey.

With an estranged and distant family who are too wrapped up in the whirlwind of their everyday lives and routine, Kiko takes refuge in his own parallel world. To celebrate his 18th birthday, the young man stays with his family at Hotel Imagine, a unique place where Kiko's imaginary world comes to life, dragging his entire family into that universe of his unfulfilled desires and aspirations - a trip they take with the help of the hotel staff and master of ceremonies Mr Imagine. Manolo Supertramp, musical artist and promoter of his own company in Malaga, plays the ringmaster, leading the audience through each numbered floor of the hotel, always with a flurry of tap dancing, his speciality.

"I'm in my element. I act, I sing and I dance," the artist said happily as he stepped off the stage after a preview screening for the press last week.

Change of direction

Beside him was Alejandro Ponce, the other Malaga native in the show and the star of one of the highlights that will leave the audience speechless. He takes to the so-called 'Cyr wheel', spinning continuously around the stage inside a giant hoop. It is his first time with this particular act after changing direction as an artist. For years he was the dance partner of his twin brother - Impact Brothers - a duo seasoned in breakdancing and classical dance, best known for their 'hand-to-hand' routine, a kind of contact balance. Together they have appeared on television and performed with circuses touring the world, including Cirque des Sens. Now they have gone their separate ways - his brother works in the United States - so this will be his solo debut. Along with the MC, trapeze artists, tumblers, jugglers and aerial acrobats on ropes and poles take all the risks to get the audience sitting on the edge of their seats. "It's pure magic," says Manolo Supertramp.

Atmospheric soundtrack

Toni Romero and Juanjo Martín have composed an atmospheric soundtrack with epic overtones. The show's concept is reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil productions, but in this case, homemade.

"Today I am fulfilling my own Imagine journey. Having the opportunity to premiere a work like this at home was something I imagined 40 years ago," says Domingo Merlín, founder of Merlín production company and Cirque des Sens. Based in Benalmádena, his company has been developing shows for years for the international market, mainly in Saudi Arabia, where the Riyadh Theater Festival opens in January.

Imagine will spend Christmas in Malaga with performances from Tuesday to Sunday (two on Saturdays). Even on Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Three Kings Day there will be a 7.30pm show. Ticket prices range from 28 to 82.60 euros, with a special 20% discount for groups of four or more.

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