Cirque, MGM Resorts Downsize; Shuffle Staff

Cirque du Soleil is performing some acrobatics away from the theater.

The days are over when Cirque shows have been operated as insular productions, independent of one another. The company is reorganizing — and downsizing — its management operations for its five residency productions on the Las Vegas Strip that are in partnership with MGM Resorts International (“Mystere” at Treasure Island being the exception). Cirque also has a show coming into Luxor to be announced this spring.

What the new business model means, in short, is Cirque shows will no longer employ a single head of department for each of its shows. Instead, multiple productions will be under the direction of one department head.

Also, Cirque will continue to oversee all artistic operations (such as managers, artists and coaches), along with picking up the lighting, staging, maintenance and any mechanically related staffers, who were previously employed by MGM Resorts.

The heads of department who have been let go have been offered severance packages. Several long-standing employees have lost their positions. Many reportedly were caught off-guard by the news; one was reportedly so upset as to have been led by security from an MGM Resorts property.

The new system should be in place by mid-April. Word of the realignment surfaced March 16, the night many Cirque and MGM Resorts officials attended the Keep Memory Alive Power of Love gala at MGM Grand Garden, and a week after the annual “One Night For One Drop” charity show at O Theatre at Bellagio.

MGM Resorts International officials are not specifying how many positions are lost in the changeover. The company is emphasizing that the stage performances themselves will not be altered, nor will any show schedules be changed.

In its touring shows, Cirque typically assigns managers and those employed in backstage positions multiple productions.

Cirque officials sent requests for clarification and confirmation to MGM Resorts, which in turn essentially explained that this is how major entertainment companies operate.

“MGM is working with Cirque du Soleil to reorganize backstage operations at Las Vegas shows to align with how Cirque du Soleil shows are structured throughout the world,” MGM Resorts spokesman Brian Ahern said Monday in a statement. “This is part of our long-standing work together to continually improve show operations and focus on creating unforgettable experiences for guests and audiences. All shows and performances will continue as usual.”

MGM Resorts is helping to reassign employees through the transition, and assist with job placement. Everyone who has lost their current job is being encouraged to re-apply through MGM Resorts. As they say in the business, the show must go on.

{ SOURCE: Las Vegas Review-Journal }