Cirque in Your Ear (Part 1 of 2)

Two Christmas’ ago I purchased MP3 players for my lovely bride and I. Since then, albeit late to the game, I have discovered the joys of podcasts, which come in handy while trying to pass the time on the bus while commuting to work. My tastes run more to shows which feature interviews with newsmakers and interesting people as opposed to solo or duet podcasts featuring the hosts alone. Public-affairs and popular-culture shows that might feature items of interest to Cirque du Soleil fans are few and far between. But I have found two sources of Las Vegas-centric podcasts that occasionally feature Cirque do Soleil – both based (naturally) in Las Vegas! This month we’ll look at KNPR’s State of Nevada.

Las Vegas-based Nevada Public Radio operates two stations on the FM dial, classical-music station 89.7 KCNV, and NPR affiliate 88.9 KNPR. State of Nevada, their local public affairs show, airs on KNPR at 9am weekdays.

State of Nevada has quite a history of topics, which can be found on their archive page, < >. The shows are sorted there by year and month, and each topic on a show is its own separate file.

While mostly catering to current news and politics, they often feature entertainment topics, occasionally involving Cirque du Soleil employees. Here’s a list of their Cirque-related shows, in chronological order by original airdate.


11/21/2003, also rebroadcast 12/25/2003 – Entertainment Engineering –This starts off with an “All Things Considered” report about UNLV creating a new area of study catering to the unique Las Vegas economy: Entertainment Engineering. The following discussion is more of a basic Cirque du Soleil primer covering topics already familiar to many Cirque fans. There is a great quote about how the “O” curtain eastoncinually tearing during show creation (which we first discussed in our “Secrets of the O Curtain” article back in Fascination #57 – Jan/Feb 2007).

Karen Gay – “Mystere” company manager
Danielle Rodenkirchen – Mystere Performer and Social Affairs Coordinator
Tony Ricotta – “O” Operations Production Manager
Brigitte Warner – Cirque du Soleil Publicist

06/17/2005, also rebroadcast 07/22/2005 – Director Franco Dragone. This long interview, taking place just a month after Le Rêve opened talks about his upbringing and some of his history with Cirque, but talks mostly about Le Rêve. Very interesting, highly recommended! Included are three samples of live soundboard recordings from the Le Rêve band.

07/03/2006, also rebroadcast 11/20/2006 – Sir George and Gilles Martin. Focuses on recording the Beatles and creation of the music for LOVE. Has a lot of discussion of the enhanced sound of the music and how that was created. Also includes a segment with a New York music critic about the impact of The Beatles music.

11/30/2006 – In a very revealing interview, Gilles Ste-Croix talks about Sixties idealism, the evolution of the show LOVE, the (at that time forthcoming) Criss Angel show and some tidbits about the Elvis project. He also gives some insight into Cirque’s business mindset. Another recommended interview.

02/14/2008, also rebroadcast on 02/18/2008 – A discussion about the staging of KA, focusing on the technical aspects. Inside this short feature are some backstage and stage manager audio recorded during a show – interesting!

JT Tomlinson – Former head of Automation
Eric Walstead – Technical Director
Pierre Parisien – Head Artistic Director

07/11/2008 – The Secret Life of Clowns – Where do clowns who perform in Cirque-style shows go to exercise their creative muscles? This segment starts with a 10-minute audio documentary piece in which several Le Rêve clowns discuss working to find places to exercise their creativity – including quotes from legendary Cirque clown John Gilkey. The discussion that follows doesn’t center around Cirque so much as how do clown performers “break out of the box” to do their own thing. Much of the latter parts of the discussion talks about the difficulties of getting people interested in this type of “edgy” theater. Mentions local venues where off-duty Cirque performers can play.

Colin Gee – former Cirque performer (Dralion)
Francine Gordon – Managing Director, Samuel Beckett Festival
Professor Dan Martin – Director of the Institute for the Management of Creative Enterprises at Carnegie Mellon University

02/05/2009 – Christopher “Edie” Kenney, Mistress of Sensuality at Zumanity. He discusses the creation of his character, his move and accommodation into Cirque in Las Vegas (including a humorous aside about how not understanding French can be a hinderance), and his impressions of the Las Vegas gay community. Most notable here is a snippet of show music from the audio soundboard of “Libera Me.”

08/18/2009 – Show Make-Up – A discussion of make-up for the big shows. Here Mr. Wild tends to dominate the conversation, and it isn’t very Cirque-specific.

Roger Stricker – Supervisor of Wigs and Makeup for Zumanity
Ron Wild – Makeup supervisor for “Phantom”

08/27/2009 – Show Costumes – A discussion of costuming for the big shows. Gives some interesting figures on numbers of costume pieces for the various shows, and discusses the backstage choreography involved in some of the “quick changes.”

Eric Wood – Wardrobe Head for “KA”
Frank Morales – Wardrobe for Bette Midler
Renie Sabol – Wardrobe Attendant for “The Lion King”
Yolan Pinter – Head of Wardrobe for “Phantom”

09/30/2009 – Cirque’s Foray into Los Angeles – Discussion of the future Cirque Kodak Theater show with Carla Hall of the Los Angeles Times. This short, 10-minute piece discusses how the deal was structured and how it might affect the Las Vegas shows. Ms. Hall brings up a notable point wondering if the financial deal, as structured, can be good for anyone else other than Cirque.

11/02/2009 – Fire Clowns – An interesting discussion of clowning in the big shows. Ray Wold’s comments on what it takes to work with fire are fascinating. He discusses his early history, how he came to Cirque’s attention, and what it feels like to have 1000-degree flames three inches from your skin. Both discuss how they are treated by their respective shows, and the skill involved in clowing professionally.

Ray Wold – Fire Performer of “O” (never missed a performance!)
Michael Goudreau – from the Lance Burton show

That’s what we can find from KNPR. Next month we’ll discuss another series of podcasts that occasionally feature Cirque, The Strip Podcast.

And if you know of any other audio interviews of Cirque, let me know by sending me an email to and I’ll list them in a future installment!