AXEL Holds Press Conference Today

The concept behind Axel, the upcoming Cirque du Soleil ice show, is that it will feel like a big arena rock show.

The idea, said Fernand Rainville, the show’s stage director and writer, is “to make it feel like a rock opera, make it feel like a musical concert and/or a sports outing. To create that energy. So to create effects that we usually see in concert shows and bring them to the theatrics of Cirque and ice skating.”

Rainville was giving this explanation after a preview of three numbers from Axel at an ice rink in a studio in the east end of Montreal on Wednesday morning. The opening number of Axel is built around the 1982 Tears for Fears hit Mad World, which is sung live by Jayden Sierra, the 22-year-old musician from Sydney, Australia who plays the title character in the show, and he is accompanied by a live band.

There are five well-known songs in Axel, including Radiohead’s Creep, Rihanna’s Diamonds, The Bee Gees’ You Should Be Dancing and House of Pain’s Jump. The songs are all arranged and adapted by prolific Québécois musician, composer and producer Philippe Brault. He also composed the original score for Axel.

This is the second Cirque ice show following Crystal, which had its première at the Bell Centre in December 2017 and is still touring the world, with shows coming up in Mexico, Russia, Latvia and Poland. In the past, most of the Cirque shows only relied on original music and didn’t feature pop hits, with the exception of the Las Vegas Cirque shows devoted to specific artists like The Beatles and Michael Jackson.

But Crystal showcased new versions of popular tunes, notably U2’s Beautiful Day, Beyoncé’s Halo and Sia’s Chandelier.

Rainville said it made sense to include some pop hits in Axel.

“Well, it’s something of a tradition in all of the ice-skating events,” Rainville said. “Skaters work with popular songs. So you can see any type of ice-skating show, you’ll hear greatest hits, from the Eurythmics to Sting to whatever. So we want people to be familiar with some of our songs … it’s like a hook, to bring people in to something that’s familiar and then take them someplace else. We created new songs that are catchy and we also created moody, very spiritual musical events during the show. So it still feels like a Cirque du Soleil show.”

Axel will have its official première at the Bell Centre Dec. 19 and runs at the rink through Dec. 29. Prior to that, it plays in Syracuse, N.Y.; Pensacola, Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla.; Roanoke, Va.; Worcester, Mass.; and at the Centre Vidéotron in Quebec City. It will then tour arenas across North America in 2020, with stops in Detroit, Tulsa, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Nashville.

{ SOURCE: The Montreal Gazette }