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A Shawnee singer takes the stage during the local run of 'Cirque Dreams Illumination'



Cirque Dreams Illumination
7:30 p.m. today-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 7 p.m. Sunday
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N. Walker

Not to be confused with Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Dreams features Broadway theatrics and international circus artistry that appeals to audiences of all ages.

The theme for its 14th production, "Illumination," is finding the extraordinary in the everyday. Urban acrobats populate the streets of a magical metropolis where they redefine the environment by reinventing familiar objects, balancing on wires and leaping tall buildings. The cast is comprised of world-class acrobats, artists and dancers.

For the "Illumination" tour, Cirque Dreams has held a contest in each city, giving a local performer a chance to take the stage. Oklahoma City's auditions were April 24 at Penn Square Mall.

Last Tuesday, it was announced that Shawnee resident Eric Gay won. A recent music graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, Gay is the assistant music minister at Liberty Baptist Church. He was the last to audition and only heard about the casting call that morning. He and his wife, Diana, were sleeping in that Saturday when his father-in-law called to tell them.

"When she told me it was for Cirque Dreams, I was not quite awake and responded I didn't want to be in the circus," he said. "Since I didn't have time to talk myself out of the audition, I was on my way before I realized it."

The hardest part of the audition was keeping calm. The other participants included vocalists, gymnasts and one young man that Gay described as being "very flexible." When it was his turn on stage, Gay sang Josh Groban's "Thankful."  

"As I sang, I noticed people stopping in the mall and listening. They were coming to the second floor railing as well," he said.

Afterward, some stuck around to congratulate Gay on his performance.

While Celebrity Attractions informed Gay the following Monday that he was a finalist, it wasn't until he was doing a radio interview the next morning that he found out he'd won.

"The radio station, during the interview, informed me I was not 'a' finalist, I was 'the' finalist," Gay said. "I was floored."

Cirque Dreams' musical director, Jill Winters, has written a song exclusively for Gay to showcase his vocal skills onstage. He will rehearse Thursday and Friday for a weekend performance.

Gay said that he's looking forward to being able to perform with such a reputable and well-known performance troupe.

"They have all treated me as if I was joining the group for the long haul," he said, "not as if I was the walk-on for the one-time performance." "?Eric Webb


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