At the WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden, 32nd St., through Jan. 6
Street kids fill the letterbox-shaped stage (only 23 ft. high but nearly 100 ft. across) decorated as an inner-city asphalt park Bedford-Stuyvesant, if it were gorgeous. The youngsters do daredevil jump-rope tricks, bicycling, skateboarding, all manner of hip-hopcrobatics. Lamp posts sway to the music, and when they're lighted they have faces. Three large dogs (maybe 8 ft. long) and a slightly smaller pup, all of the Snuffalufagus species, gambol into view. The pup relieves himself on one of the posts. A pickpocket, a timid man and an ample shaman-lady join the main kid, who thinks the one thing missing is snow.
Wintuk, the first production created for a New York City venue by the Montreal theater company Cirque de Soleil, doesn't match the magnificent achievement of the troupe's Las Vegas shows O and KA. It's resized for kids, aimed at them and their wealthy parents (the top ticket goes for $200, though you can see everything from the $40 seats). As such, it's a decent introduction to the fantasy world that Cirque can create with stage effects, music and its performers' elastic, artistic bodies.
In the story devised by writer-director Richard Blackburn (of Quebec's Theatre de la Dame de Coeur), the shaman-lady leads the kid and a few friends on a winter wandering up North, to the land of some very photogenic Inuit, and a battle with 12-ft.-tall ice creatures (all puppets, like the dogs). But story is rarely the thing in a Cirque show; it's the circus acts you remember. Here you'll meet a juggler who keeps three, four, finally seven balls in the air without losing her concentration or panache. Acrobats bounce on Russian poles, sometimes pirouetting high in the air and catching the very sticks they bounced off. Best of all is a Raggedy Ann contortionist, whom two men keep folding into impossible attitudes.
The final snowfall is voluminous, covering every part of the auditorium. Some of the crowd shoveled a few pounds of the fluttering paper slips into their bags. Warning to visitors afraid of confetti overload: You will get white.