Cirque du Soleil: A global sensation

Showbiz Update: Canada - Quebec - Theater

Even by the Cirque du Soleil’s overachieving standards, this has been an exceptionally busy year.

The innovative Montreal-based circus is premiering three shows in North America in the space of six months, a first for the Cirque. “Zarkana,” written and directed by Montreal filmmaker Francois Girard, made its bow at Radio City Music Hall in late June, and is off to Madrid and then the fabled Kremlin Theater in Moscow.

“Iris,” a trip through the world of cinema, is set to preem Sept. 25 at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles and take up residence permamently there, while “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour” will be seen for the first time Oct. 2 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, before heading out to play 25 cities across the continent.

The Jackson show will later head to Europe and there will also be a permanent version of the show at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, opening in 2013.

The Cirque has toured the globe extensively for years and is a Las Vegas fixture, but the three frosh shows mark a step in the circus’ plan to up its profile in the U.S.

Popular on Variety

“This is a very important year for the Cirque,” says Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre. “We’ve got a pretty incredible presence in Las Vegas. The Michael Jackson show will be our eighth permanent show in Las Vegas. What’s key for us this year is to have a bigger presence in two major markets, New York and Los Angeles.” He adds that because it’s a show about the biz, he hopes it becomes a stop on every Hollywood tourist’s agenda. “Right now, when you go to Hollywood, you can go to the Walk of Fame and there’s nothing else to visit. We hope that soon people will look up at the Kodak Theater and go see our show. So strategically, this show in L.A. is very important.”

“Zarkana” will play every year at Radio City Music Hall from May to mid-September and it’s proven a hit in what’s been a tougher markets for the Cirque to crack. More than 400,000 tickets have already been sold for the show.

The Cirque has three models of shows. There are the permanent ones, the touring Big Top productions and the arena tours, the latter a relatively newer concept for the group. With the Big Top shows, the Cirque can only visit cities large enough to generate sales of around 100,000 tickets. The arena tours allow the Cirque to make its way to smaller markets, selling between 20,000 and 30,000 tickets over the course of a two or three-night run.

The plan is to have an arena tour every year, while the Big Top productions, which arrive every two or three years, will tour the globe for 10 to 15 years.

When Lamarre, the former CEO of the leading French-language TVA Network, arrived at the Cirque 10 years ago, the circus was active in 100 cities worldwide. Now that number is 350.

More Legit

  • Tina Fey attends the "Mean Girls"

    Tina Fey Announces Movie Adaptation of Broadway's 'Mean Girls' Musical

    It’s good to be mean…the “Mean Girls” musical, that is. Producers of the hit Broadway show announced today that the Tony-nominated production is being adapted for the big screen for Paramount Pictures. The musical is based on the 2004 movie of the same name. “I’m very excited to bring ‘Mean Girls’ back to the big screen,’ Tina Fey, [...]

  • Freestyle Love Supreme

    Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda and 'Freestyle Love Supreme' in Exclusive Clip From Sundance Documentary

    Before turning “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” into musical phenomenons, Lin-Manuel Miranda could have been found on stage, spouting off-the-cuff rhymes with his improv group, “Freestyle Love Supreme.” After performing across the globe, the troupe — founded 15 years ago by Miranda, his frequent collaborator Thomas Kail and emcee Anthony Veneziale — made its Broadway [...]

  • Ariana Grande 7 Rings

    Rodgers & Hammerstein Are Having a Moment Thanks to Ariana Grande, 'Oklahoma!'

    Jaws dropped when it was revealed that the late musical theater titans Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were granted 90% of the songwriting royalties on “7 Rings,” Ariana Grande’s 2019 No. 1 hit. The dominant motif of Grande’s song is taken from “My Favorite Things,” the cornerstone of R&H’s 1959 musical “The Sound of [...]

  • A Soldiers Play review

    'A Soldier's Play': Theater Review

    Now, that’s what I call a play! Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “A Soldier’s Play,” now being revived on Broadway by Roundabout Theatre Company, packs plenty of dramatic tension into smoldering issues of racial justice and injustice, military honor and dishonor, and the solemn struggle to balance their harrowing demands on characters who are only [...]

  • Bess Wohl

    Listen: The Impossible Plays of Bess Wohl

    The playwright Bess Wohl is always chasing a wild idea — and she’s found that rather than scaring away her collaborators, it just makes them more eager. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “I started my career thinking, oh, I’ll just write a play that’s really easy to do,” Wohl said on the latest episode [...]

  • Roundabout Theatre Company: Three New Plays

    Roundabout Theatre's Off-Broadway Season Adds Three Shows From Female Playwrights

    Roundabout Theatre Company, led by artistic director and CEO Todd Haimes, announced Tuesday that three female-written plays will be added to the 2020-2021 Off-Broadway season. Sanaz Toossi’s “English” will make its world premiere in fall of 2020, while Lindsey Ferrentino’s “The Year to Come” and Anna Ziegler’s “The Wanderers” will make their New York debuts [...]

  • Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant,

    Gregg Smith, Dancer and Choreographer Assistant, Dies at 73

    Gregg Smith, a dancer, casting director and assistant choreographer who had a long association with director Kenny Ortega, has died. He was 73. Smith died on Jan. 1. The industry veteran worked as a performer in the national touring company of the musical “Hair” and in a Los Angeles production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content