Cirque du Soleil is hoping the third time’s a charm with “Paramour,” a Broadway show that represents the latest attempt by the global troupe to crack the New York market with a long-term production, after the flop of “Banana Shpeel” in 2010 and the two-summer run of “Zarkana” in 2011 and 2012.
The production has booked the Lyric Theater, where “On the Town” closes in the coming weeks, for a run that begins previews in April. The Lyric (formerly the Hilton and the Foxwoods), long considered one of the most difficult houses for traditional musicals due to its cavernous size, has proven well-suited to circus-style spectacles in the past: The same theater was home to the technically sprawling production of “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” for about three years.
“Paramour” marks the first time Cirque has gone directly after the Broadway market, with creators of the show endeavoring to give the production more of a storyline than traditional Cirque offerings. Cirque du Soleil has found success in New York with tour stops of big-tent shows such as “Amaluna” (pictured above), but hasn’t yet carved out a permanent foothold in the city the way the company has in Las Vegas, where eight of its titles are now running. (In addition to “Banana Shpeel” and “Zarkana,” the Cirque holiday show “Wintuk” played Madison Square Garden for four holiday seasons in a row, from 2007 to 2010.)
With tourism, both domestic and international, playing an increasingly important part in Broadway economics, New York does seem to represent a potential untapped market for Cirque, which earlier this year sold a majority stake to TPG Capital and Bosun. The company will open its first show in China in 2018.
Cirque will reportedly spend about $25 million to mount “Paramour” — pricey for a Broadway show, but not a massive investment compared to what the company spends on many of its spectacles. The storyline, set in the Hollywood golden age, will follow a poet faced with a tough choice. The production will blend elements of musical theater and circus with a cast that mixes performers from both worlds.
“Paramour” will be directed by Philippe Decoufle under the “artistic guidance” of Jean-Francois Bouchard, with Pascale Henrot and West Hyler also aboard as associate creative directors. The show begins previews April 16 at the Lyric ahead of an opened set for June 2, which is after the eligibility cutoff date for the 2015-16 Tony Awards.