×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How Cirque du Soleil Is Changing Its Broadway Show ‘Paramour’

A new signature acrobatic sequence, rechoreographed flying machines, a trimmed climax, and deeper backstories for the lead characters are all among the creative changes that Cirque du Soleil will incorporate into its Broadway production “Paramour” — work extensive enough to warrant cancelling four performances later this month in order to accommodate it.

It’s a rare move on Broadway, where the costs of additional rehearsal time, coupled with the loss of revenue from the darkened performances, tend to discourage such tinkering after opening night. But according to Scott Zeiger, the president and managing director of Cirque du Soleil Theatrical, it’s common practice at deep-pocketed Cirque, which, hearkening back to its roots as a troupe of street performers, often tweaks shows using audience response as a guide.

What’s unusual for Cirque — and necessitated by the strictures of a Broadway venue and the industry’s labor regulations — is the need to cancel shows to do the work, since touring shows like “Toruk,” the “Avatar”-inspired outing that hits New York next month, can make changes in the several days’ lag time between stops. Even “Love,” the company’s Beatles show in Vegas, has been significantly updated for its 10th anniversary, with Zeiger estimating that some 30% of the show has been reworked.

Paramour,” a riff on the golden age of Hollywood with a love-triangle plot, earned reviews that skewed mixed to negative when the production opened in May, but that hasn’t dissuaded Broadway’s summer crowds, boosted by seasonal tourism, from turning out. Weekly sales for the production top $1 million with some regularity.

Popular on Variety

Cirque won’t specify exactly how much the creative changes to “Paramour” will cost. “It’s not free. It costs a lot,” Zeiger admitted, but added that the additional outlay fell within the reserve funds built into the show’s initialization capitalization of $25 million.

The cast’s dancers are currently rehearsing some of the upcoming changes in a studio during non-performance hours, but the cancelled shows — on Aug. 22, 24, 25 and 31 — will allow for full-staff, eight-hour work days. Among the changes are new choreography for the flying machines in a $500,000 sequence that marks the first time drones have been used on Broadway.

Depending on where they’re seated, some audience members have mistaken the flying machines for marionettes on invisible wires, which significantly reduces the impact of a lyrical sequence that sees lampshades take flight. The show’s creators will rechoreograph the sequence to make it clear, from every seat in the house, that there are no wires involved.

Despite a wealth of tumbling sequences throughout the first act, a lot of audience members also felt they only get a taste of signature Cirque acrobatics in the first aerial sequence, starring the twins Andrew and Kevin Atherton, that comes three quarters of the way through the first act. So Cirque is adding what Zeiger called a new “signature sequence” — one noticeably different from the floor-based tumbling — during the show’s third scene, set in a cafe. (He’s keeping mum on the exact details to preserve the surprise.)

Even one of the show’s best-received scenes, a climactic rooftop chase with trampolines, is getting nipped and tucked. The scene was cited favorably in a lot of reviews, and the audience seems to love it, Zeiger said, but because their enthusiasm peters out toward the end, he thinks it runs a little long. It’ll be trimmed by 90 seconds — a complicated endeavor, given the number of moving parts involved.

Perhaps toughest of all, however, might be the challenge of deepening the characters of the three leads, which many critics and traditional Broadway theatergoers found wan. Through new dialogue incorporated into existing scenes, “we’re going to give the principal characters a little bit more backstory,” Zeiger said.

The cost of it all — at a time when city tourism is at high tide — will be worth it, Zeiger said, if the improvements help solidify the show’s staying power. “We’re not doing this to get re-reviewed,” he said. “We just want it to be better. We intend to be here a long time.”

More Legit

  • Mrs. Doubtfire BroadwayCon panel

    Listen: 'Mrs. Doubtfire' the Musical, Live From BroadwayCon

    In the Broadway-bound musical version of “Mrs. Doubtfire,” actor Rob McClure has the unenviable job of following in the footsteps of comedy great Robin Williams, who memorably played the title role in the 1993 film on which the stage show is based. Listen to this week’s podcast below: How does McClure hope to fill those [...]

  • Grand Horizons review

    'Grand Horizons': Theater Review

    Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this one, as you surely must have: A nice, all-American family is in the process of breaking up and trying to make this sad state of affairs seem funny in Bess Wohl’s Broadway outing “Grand Horizons.” After 50 years of marriage, Nancy (the ever-elegant Jane Alexander) and Bill (the [...]

  • Uncle Vanya review

    'Uncle Vanya': Theater Review

    Director Ian Rickson has had success with Chekhov in the past. His exquisitely balanced, tragicomic production of “The Seagull” (2007 in London, 2008 on Broadway) was well-nigh flawless with, among others, Kristin Scott Thomas as painfully vulnerable as she was startlingly funny. Sadly, with his production of “Uncle Vanya,” despite felicities in the casting, lightning [...]

  • The Welkin review

    'The Welkin': Theater Review

    A life hanging perilously in the balance of charged-up, polarized opinions: This courtroom drama could easily have been titled “Twelve Angry Women.” But playwright Lucy Kirkwood (“Chimerica,” “The Children”) is far too strong and imaginative a writer for so hand-me-down a cliché. Instead she opts for “The Welkin,” an old English term for the vault [...]

  • 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 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content