Mystère Gets an Altitude Adjustment

As the pirates of Buccaneer Bay fired the first cannons from the decks of ships anchored in front of newly opened Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in 1993, Cirque du Soleil was launching a show inside that would turn out to be the opening salvo in an entertainment revolution for the Strip. Mystère would outlast the pirates as well as countless other productions, and Cirque shows that followed expanded or created a distinct variation on the standards set by Las Vegas’ original Cirque show. To make a change to the classic production is no small consideration.

When there is a change, it’s worthy of an announcement to an audience of Cirque friends, family and media with a full-production demonstration. Tim Smith, artistic director for Mystère, gave the introduction to his show’s newly revised teeterboard act to a crowd assembled in TI’s Mystère Theater on the last Monday afternoon in June. “This particular act hasn’t been touched in 23 years,” said Smith. “That’s pretty amazing. That’s the exciting part for us. They’ve been standing in the same places, doing the same sequences, walking, talking, all in the same place for 23 years until Saturday (July 3) when this debuts.”

After the lights dimmed, Mystère’s central character The Red Bird entered the stage and fruitlessly tried to use the new teeterboard to break with gravity before white-wigged footmen quickly commandeered it and demonstrated its potential. As Smith had announced, it allowed them to soar 10 feet higher than the previous teeterboard did as they engaged in the flips and twists of Cirque “skill set” acrobatics. Fans who have seen Mystère multiple times will likely notice the change in altitude, but as Smith explained later, he was really looking forward to their reactions this month.

“Cirque’s mandate is creation,” Smith said. “We’re constantly changing the show on a nightly basis, and we do large, large elements like this once every few years in order to keep the audiences coming back. We’ve upgraded the skill set about 80 percent. These guys that you just saw right now are so intense and so concentrated, so when we get a month under our belts, at 10 shows a week, this act’s going to soar.”

The performers still need to feel “the comfort of the air” while performing before audiences on the new board design, which Smith said is only four years old and came from the extreme sports world. Their marks and viewpoints are now 10 feet higher than before on a board that is both shorter than the previous one and provides better sight lines for viewers. But while from an audience standpoint they have mastered the new apparatus, from a Cirque standpoint Mystère’s new teeterboard act must be properly seasoned. “This is exactly where the act should be right now,” said Smith. “And just like any live event, especially Cirque’s real specialty disciplines, in about four weeks this thing’s gonna kill.”

{ SOURCE: Las Vegas Magazine | }