Issue #160: MAY 2017

Welcome to the latest edition of Fascination, the Unofficial Cirque du Soleil Newsletter.

While it goes without saying that a good portion of the news for this edition of Fascination focuses on VOLTA’s premiere, there’s plenty of other news to read about, including a number of Cirque shows celebrating birthdays and anniversaries throughout the month of April. Alas, only a few made a note in celebration online. KOOZA was one, mentioning that On April 29, 2017, KOOZA celebrated its 10th Anniversary… in Perth! Ever wonder what KOOZA achieved over those last 10 years? They did too and provided a brief list of facts and figures:

• 3,379 shows performed
• 56 cities in 18 countries visited
• 7.5 million people amazed
• 168,000 rotations of our Wheel of Death spectacular
• 67,000 somersaults by Teeterboard team
• 675,000 skipping rope jumps on the Highwire.

April 15th was a big day for TOTEM contortionist Oyun-Erdene Senge. She unveiled her solo act with the show. Over the first weekend in May, Varekai celebrated 1,000 arena shows. And, also this first week of May, the Kurios tour had something great to celebrate: the release of the show’s DVD! (We’ll have a more thorough review of the disc and its contents next time, but what I can tell you at this time is… get it if you can! It’s a great recording!)

Meanwhile…

A SNEAK PEEK AT CIRQUE DU SOLEIL AT SEA

MSC Cruises just opened bookings for the second of it’s next-generation Meraviglia-Class cruise ships – the MSC Bellissima – due to be delivered in 2019. Why should fans of Cirque du Soleil care about an announcement such as this? Back in November 2015, Cirque and MSC announced a partnership to create on-board entertainment for MSC’s new class of next-gen smart ships and the first vessel – the MSC Meraviglia – is due to set sail on its first cruise June 3, 2017. And that means in just a few short weeks we’ll see what CIRQUE DU SOLEIL AT SEA has been cooking up behind closed doors these past few months.

Gianni Onorato, Chief Executive Officer of MSC Cruises, said: “When it comes to the Meraviglia generation of ships, we are particularly proud of our unique partnership with Cirque du Soleil who is creating a total of eight original shows for all four ships.”

Wait… EIGHT SHOWS? That’s right Cirque fans, two brand-new shows per ship! Branded as CIRQUE DU SOLEIL AT SEA, details about these new offerings are just now beginning to trickle out…

As we’ve discussed before here (http://www.cirquefascination.com/?p=6801) and here (http://www.cirquefascination.com/?p=6805), the MSC Meraviglia will feature the ultimate in entertainment, alongside a broad range of dining options and luxurious wellness choices. The highlight of on-board entertainment will be represented by the world leader in artistic performance, Cirque du Soleil, thanks to the exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea partnership with MSC Cruises. Two unique Cirque du Soleil shows will be performed on-board in the evenings, twice every night, 6 nights per week, at the purpose-built Carousel Lounge. MSC Cruises designed a custom-made entertainment venue, the Carousel Lounge, for MSC Meraviglia and its three sister smart cruise ships. Featuring the latest technology, this ground-breaking venue, which has been designed to meet the needs of Cirque du Soleil and its performers, will be a stunning circular performance space with a 180-degree circular glass wall. This custom-built lounge covers 1,000 square meters and can accommodate up to 450 guests, including 120 enjoying the full show-and-dining experience.

A piece of fabric can become part of a dream. Cirque du Soleil at Sea is getting prepared to give you an unforgettable experience, exclusively on MSC Meraviglia. Get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Cirque du Soleil at Sea costumes here: (https://goo.gl/IM7FI2).

A NEW TV SHOW ON THE WAY?

Just as we were wrapping up this issue, Cirque du Soleil Casting shocked us with a new post about a new television series they’re working on: “Montreal-based Elite Casting and the Cirque du Soleil Casting team are looking for adult performers for a TV show, ‘Circus Kids’ (working title), produced by Apartment 11 Productions in association with Cirque du Soleil.

“Production: Set at an elite boarding school for circus performers, ‘Circus Kids’ is a half hour telenovela. Fast-paced and high-energy, the series tells the story of an extraordinary group of young artists and athletes. Together, they must strive for personal excellence while learning to work as a team, finding fun, true friends, and a passion for circus along the way. But the obstacles these kids face are formidable, the risks are real, the rivalries intense and the stakes are high. And sometimes, it’s easier to fly on a trapeze or clown around than navigate the trials and tribulations of growing up.”

According to the casting list (https://goo.gl/znjPxk), some of the characters for this new series are…

• Fred – Male (looks over 25) – A professional clown, now the Headmaster, Fred has a hard time being an authority figure. He’s just too nice a guy.

• Sir Rayne – Male (looks over 35) – A perfectionist, a disciplinarian, a force of nature, a rock star in the gymnastic world, Sir Rayne puts competition over collaboration.

• Nadia – Female (looks over 35) – A circus coach, Nadia understands the rewards of taking risks. But after a near fatal fall, she knows the consequences only too well.

• Ginger – Female (looks over 25) – Her emotions are a wild as her look. The artistic coach, she engages the students’ creative side – enriching their souls as she teaches movement, music and dance.

Huh. Cirque du Soleil’s track record on television variety shows is mixed at best, in my opinion. The company received numerous accolades for its reality series FIRE WITHIN, detailing the trials and tribulations of creating VAREKAI in 2002. But it received an equal amount of animosity for its follow-up series SOLSTROM for being too childish and not up to the level of quality not only seen in Fire Within, but from other Cirque projects. Other television announcements have so far been left in limbo as well. There’s PARADISO, a drama with 20th Century FOX Television, which stemmed from the first-look deal for scripted series CDS Media inked with 20th TV in January 2015. PARADISO was said to be in the vein of Moulin Rouge: about a girl pursuing her dream of performing at the Paradiso, the most glamorous nightclub in San Lorenzo (a fictional but contemporary city based on 1950’s Havana). Alas, we’ve heard nothing about it since. There’s also ALCHEMY, a Marblemedia / Cirque du Soleil Media co-production announced back in July 2015, which had even less details than PARADISO. And, of course, there’s LUNA PETUNIA, the animated children’s show which aired its first (and so far only) season on NETFLIX beginning in December 2016. So, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if “Circus Kids” becomes anything at all.

GOODBYE PARAMOUR

You know what they say… only the good die young. And while many a fan can be argue that Paramour was a mixed-blessing at best, it’s with a saddened heart that we bid the show adieu. As such here are the last four weeks of grosses for the show…

Week      This Week	 Potential   Difference    Seats   % Cap
Ending      Gross         Grosses    in Dollars    Sold	 
------------------------------------------------------------------
26-Mar    $921,604.25  $1,748,376.00   $12,802.70  12,086  79.68%
02-Apr    $837,809.54  $1,748,376.00  -$83,794.71  11,057  72.90%
09-Apr    $883,287.70  $1,748,376.00  $155,478.16  12,005  79.15%
16-Apr  $1,285,595.51  $1,748,376.00  $292,307.81  13,812  91.06%

Paramour had 397 performances (366 regular / 31 previews) over 53 weeks beginning the week of April 17, 2016 and ending the week of April 16, 2017. In that time, the show grossed $50,071.359.67 (on a potential $87,970.399.00), or 56.92% of what it could have earned. Capacity was at 76.96%, which isn’t bad; Paramour sold 579,261 of 752,712 available seats across its run.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND WITHIN

To make an artist for one of Cirque’s productions, it takes a talented individual who is open to new experiences – and veterans who can guide the way through those new experiences. Cirque du Soleil has assembled some of the most well-known and respected collaborators in their fields – coaches, choreographers, creators, composers and others – to help our artists achieve their goals. And through a series of interviews on their casting website, we meet some of them. We’ve collected all 11 mentor interviews for you to peruse in this three-part series. In Part One, we met: André Simard (Acrobatic Research and Development), Bernard Petiot (Vice President, Casting and Performance), and Boris Verkhovsky (Director of Acrobatics and Coaching). In Part Two, we continued with: Claude Chaput (Conductor, Composer, and Arranger), David Shiner (Director and Clown), Dominic Champagne (Director), and Francois Girard (Director). And now we conclude by hearing from Laur Fugere (Singer & Stage Coach), Luc Tremblay (Choreographer and Educator), Mia Michaels (Choreographer), and Robert Lepage (Director).

Last month we kicked-off our newest feature series – “We’re Off and Running – A Series of Classic Critiques” – that takes a dive into the archives to examine the first reviews, peeks, and evaluations of Cirque du Soleil’s “classic” touring shows as they took their first steps across North America. The impetus: How did the press see Le Cirque du Soleil in 2002, 1998, 1994, 1990, 1987? What I found extraordinary, and more than I expected. Beginning this month we’re sharing these discoveries here in Fascination through a series of collections, beginning with the 1987 tournée of Le Cirque du Soleil (better known today as Le Cirque Réinventé), and continuing on from there!

Let’s go!

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