Madison Square Garden works with Cirque

Untitled family-oriented show will preem in winter '07

Cirque du Soleil and MSG Entertainment have struck a deal under which the artsy Canadian circus troupe will create a winter-themed production specifically for the 4,500-seat Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Untitled big-budget offering will preem late next year and run 10 weeks a year through at least 2010.

Family-oriented show marks the first semi-permanent Gotham outpost for Cirque, whose prior New York outings have been tour stops for productions performed in temporary tents (“Allegria”) or in arenas (“Delirium”).

Troupe already has five permanent shows in Vegas and another in Orlando, Fla., plus six touring globally. (One, the 14-year-old “Saltimbanco,” will be retired at the end of the year, to be replaced by a new road show in the spring.)

Deal reps another step in the expansion of MSG, which last week added the Beacon Theater to its roster of Gotham venues. Cablevision-owned company operates Radio City Music Hall and both the arena and theater at Madison Square Garden.

Cirque show will replace the more traditional legit offerings that usually have seasonal runs at the theater at the Garden. “A Christmas Carol” ran for 10 years, which gave way to “Peter Pan” last year and “Annie” this year.

MSG Entertainment prexy Jay Marciano said sales for these legit shows had not diminished and that box office for “Annie” was topping last year’s strong showing for “Peter Pan.”

Hank Ratner, vice chairman of MSG and Cablevision, added that such productions may find seasonal berths at another MSG venue, such as the Beacon.

Cirque show will be exclusive to the MSG theater. No details about its creative content were announced besides the fact that the production, based around the concept of winter, would be the first of the troupe’s offerings to be specifically oriented toward family auds. Cirque founder Guy Laliberte said it would not center on one particular holiday a la the MSG-produced “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.” Further specifics are expected in spring.

MSG would not talk budget numbers for the new production, but according to Ratner, “It’s a significant amount of money.”

Ratner also hopes the partnership, set for four years with an option to extend, leads to further MSG-Cirque productions. “We have a lot more dates and a lot more venues to fill,” he said.

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