Cirque du Soleil Not a Guarantee for Next Luxor Show

As reported Thursday, February 27th, “R.U.N” is closing March 8 at Luxor after a 4 1/2-month residency, the shortest run of any Cirque du Soleil show ever in Las Vegas. Stunning. But what have we learned from the company’s dalliance with graphic-novel storytelling?

In no particular order:

The next show moving into Luxor theater might not be Cirque. I can impart confidently that it is not a certainty that Cirque will move a new show into a theater it has effectively occupied for more than 11 years. All options are being evaluated, including another collaboration with Cirque, a non-Cirque production, or even a headlining series. Headliners did perform in the room between the closing of “Hairspray” in June 2006 and Criss Angel’s opening of “Believe” in October 2008. Liza Minnelli, Earth Wind & Fire and Lindsey Buckingham were among the rotation of stars to play the venue. A focus on headliners make sense, as the room is regally appointed and recently renovated (courtesy of “R.U.N”). And, MGM Resorts has had ample headlining success at Park Theater, the company’s only 1,500-plus theater not home to a Cirque show.

Stamping “Cirque” on a Cirque du Soleil production isn’t always the best option. The crucial strategic decision to stamp the famous Cirque logo onto R.U.N” promotional material actually hindered the show’s prospects in Las Vegas. The idea was to tap into the Cirque’s extensive brand equity. But enforcing that brand only confused ticket-buyers, many of whom thought they would see a show closer in line with “Mystere” or “Ka” than, say, Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City.”

Cirque is not infallible in Las Vegas. This is especially true of the company’s newer shows. We’ve known for more than two decades Cirque’s hold on Las Vegas as the Strip’s predominant production company. But three of company’s more recent original productions have fallen short of box-office success. Prior to “R.U.N,” “Viva Elvis,” a seemingly foolproof blend iconic Vegas institutions, closed in August 2012 after a 2 1/2-year run. “Zarkana,” also at Aria, closed in 2016 after a sluggish four-year run, as MGM Resorts turned the theater into convention space rather than risk another production show. “Michael Jackson One,” which premiered at Mandalay Bay in 2013, is the only original Cirque show to open in the past decade still onstage.

Luxor is still dedicated to entertainment. There are no plans to pull apart Luxor’s theater for convention space, restaurants or a bingo hall. The resort remains home to Blue Man Group (a Cirque acquisition) in its own theater; and Carrot Top, “Fantasy” and Terry Bradshaw’s production show at Atrium Showroom. The hotel’s emphasis on a wide swath of entertainment should remain unchanged. Whether it has an appetite for such a risk as “R.U.N” remains to be seen.

{ SOURCE: John Katsilometes, Las Vegas Review-Journal }