Issue #155: DEC 2016

Welcome to the latest edition of Fascination, the Unofficial Cirque du Soleil Newsletter. It’s been a hell of a month…

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL IN MOURNING

« The entire Cirque du Soleil family is deeply saddened by the accidental death of Oliver Rochette, a LUZIA technician from Quebec, that happened on November 29th in San Francisco. His immediate family, including his father Gilles Ste-Croix, one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil, has been informed of the accident. Our thoughts are with Gilles, his family, and all Cirque du Soleil employees. »

“I am heartbroken,” said Cirque du Soleil CEO, Daniel Lamarre. “I wish to extend in my name and in the name of all Cirque du Soleil employees my sincerest sympathies and offer my full support to Gilles and his family. Oliver has always been a member of our tight family and a truly beloved colleague.”

Mr. Rochette died Tuesday night following injuries sustained in a lift accident during the set-up for LUZIA at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Cirque has been working with the appropriate authorities and have offered their full cooperation. Cal-OSHA, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health in California, will be investigating the incident. All performances of LUZIA were canceled from Tuesday, November 29th through Monday, December 5th. The cast of LUZIA held a wonderful memorial performance to Rochette on Sunday, December 4th. Regular performances resumed Tuesday, December 6th at 8:00pm.

But Mr. Rochette’s death was one of three accidents involving Cirque du Soleil personnel in one week. Acrobat Lisa Skinner fractured a vertebra after falling while performing in the Kooza show in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. On Wednesday, Weiliang Sky Wu, a Cirque artist in the Ovo show, fell during what is called the trampo-wall act, in which the performers climb up a wall at the back of the stage. He fell on to a trampoline. Though he appeared not to be badly hurt, the show was stopped and he was taken to a hospital. He was released from the hospital a half hour after his arrival and had only minor injuries. And, of course, let us not forget about Karina Silva Poirier, who plunged almost 40 feet to the stage, while rehearsing at La Nouba. (Karina is doing a bit better we hear, thank goodness!)

Is this a trend? Is Cirque getting soft on safety? Lamarre said his company does everything it can to make the performers and technicians as safe as possible, but accidents still happen. “It’s like asking the police to prevent a car accident,” Lamarre said. “It’s happened three time in 32 years of Cirque history. We have a long list of protocols of what we should be doing.” But the bottom line is that there are risks associated with performing in a circus. And that’s true. We here at Fascination mourn along with Cirque du Soleil, and wish a speedy and complete recovery for Lisa Skinner, Weiliang Sky Wu, and Karina Silva Poirier.

VOLTA GETS A CREATIVE TEAM

Last month Cirque du Soleil introduced us to their newest big top show for 2017 – VOTLA – which was announced to the world via social media on Friday, November 4th. In addition to the name, we were also enlightened to the show’s story and theme: “WAZ, a popular gameshow host, has lost touch with his inner self in the pursuit of fame, pulling others in the trap of instant glory. But as doubt sets in, WAZ is enlightened by childhood memories as he encounters ‘free spirits’ who open doors to his inner soul he has long kept shut. On his high-voltage search for meaning, will WAZ find the courage to relinquish his fame, reconnect with his true self, and shine bright? VOLTA tells a spellbinding story about the freedom to choose and the thrill of blazing your own trail. Inspired in part by the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of action sports, the show weaves the adrenaline rush of acrobatics into a visually striking world driven by a stirring melodic score. VOLTA is a story of transformation. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one’s true potential, and the power of the group to make that possible. It celebrates freedom as a movement.”

And while they also told us the show came under the direction of Bastien Alexandre (Director) and Jean Guibert (Director of Creation), two Quebec designers who worked together on the Toronto Pan American Games’ opening ceremony, little else about the show’s creative team was released… until now. VOLTA’s creative team comprises 13 creators under the artistic guidance of Jean-François Bouchard:

• Bastien Alexandre – Writer and Director
• Jean Guibert – Director of Creation
• Bruce Rodgers – Set Designer
• Zaldy Goco – Costume Designer
• Julie Perron – Choreographer
• Martin Labrecque – Lighting Designer
• Thibaut Duverneix – Video Content Designer
• Jean-Michel Caron – Sound Designer
• Anne Séguin Poirier – Props Designer
• Philippe Aubertin – Acrobatic Performance Designer
• Rob Bollinger – Acrobatic Performance Designer
• Jaque Paquin – Acrobatic Equipment and Rigging Designer
• Eleni Uranis – Make up Designer
• Manon Beaudoin – Character’s guide

But perhaps the most exciting ‘creator’ of all is the show’s composer, which Cirque du Soleil announced on December 5th: “We’re pleased to announce M83 (Anthony Gonzalez) as the Composer and Musical director for VOLTA bringing both epic and poetic sound to our newest Touring show, opening at Vieux-Port de Montréal April 20th!” This is exciting news! As Jose Perez pointed out: Anthony composed the soundtrack for the 2013 movie Oblivion, and the band’s music has been featured on films such as Divergent, Insurgent, and The Fault in our Stars. But perhaps M83’s most popular work is the 2011 single Midnight City from their Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming album. The track has appeared in several commercials, TV shows, and movies. “Volta is a contemporary show brimming with energy, but it is also deeply human and theatrical,” explains writer and director Bastien Alexandre. “We were seduced by Anthony’s ability to create melodies that are both epic and poetic and transcend the heart and soul.”

“The story of VOLTA is ours,” Gonzalez said. “It is a tale of a generation who is calling for change and I was very keen to contribute to telling this story. I’m deeply honored to be part of the Cirque team and it’s a wonderful new challenge in unknown territory for me. Ultimately, it’s challenges like this that I find so inspiring and drive me to make the music that I do.” Welcome to Cirque, Anthony!

Interested in learning more about VOLTA? Check out the first TV spot!. And, you can follow VOLTA on…

• Facebook: facebook.com/VOLTA
• Twitter: @Cirque #VOLTA
• Instagram: cirquedusoleil #VOLTA

VOLTA will be presented under the Big Top in Montreal’s Old Port starting April 20th, 2017. Cirque Club members can purchase tickets for these performances online at: http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/volta

PARAMOUR CLOSING APRIL 16, 2017!

Broadway is making way for Harry Potter, literally.

According to the Montreal Gazette, the cavernous Lyric Theater will be dramatically reconfigured — shedding one-fifth of its seats — to create a home for the most-coveted theatrical tenant of the moment: the two-part play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which is expected to open there in spring 2018. Buuuuuut, the theater is currently occupied by Cirque du Soleil, which spent millions creating Paramour, its first Broadway production, and who was hoping to keep running it there. But the Ambassador Theater Group, the British company that owns the Lyric, was so eager to lure “Cursed Child” that it is making it financially worthwhile for Cirque to move out.

“We’re not closing because business is bad,” said Scott Zeiger, the chief executive of Cirque’s theatrical division, in an interview with Deadline. “They have a timeline for the work they want to do, and made the request. We had a friendly negotiation, and they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse – they incentivized us to go.” Asked if the offer included relocation to another ATG house in the U.S. or abroad, Zeiger said no, but did add he is “in discussions with several theater owners in New York and abroad who are interested in welcoming this unique production, including Stage Entertainment for a production in Germany in 2018.”

Reportedly developed at a cost of $25 million, Paramour has been under-performing at the Lyric, one of Broadway’s two biggest houses. Last summer, it shut down for several days to incorporate changes to improve the story. But last week, when many shows benefited from the beginning of the Thanksgiving-through-New Year’s holiday season, Paramour grossed just over $1 million, barely reaching 60 percent of its potential. “This is the first time in my career that I’ve been asked to move a successful production,” Zeiger told Deadline. “We believe in this property and will continue to nurture it.”

Close watchers of the Lyric box office could see that the show, with a large cast and orchestra and significant backstage expenses, was showing no signs of building an audience or gaining on its weekly running costs. Most weeks, it took in between $800K and $900k, or half its gross potential of $1.8 million. We at Fascination have been looking at Paramour’s grosses since its debut, and while we feel the show is doing okay, it true it isn’t living up to its potential. Maybe relocating the show to another theater in New York, or taking it on a world-wide tour would be a better option.

Week      This Week	 Potential   Difference    Seats   % Cap
Ending      Gross         Grosses    in Dollars    Sold	 
------------------------------------------------------------------
04-Sep    $890,754.60  $1,592,392.00  $337,331.90  10,218  76.99%
11-Sep    $892,797.05  $1,805,456.00    $2,042.45  11,122  73.33%
18-Sep    $999,384.45  $1,805,456.00  $106,587.50  12,739  83.99%
25-Sep    $800,590.15  $1,805,456.00 -$198,794.30   9,744  64.24%
02-Oct    $796,008.80  $1,805,456.00   -$4,581.35   9,903  65.29%
09-Oct    $929,646.25  $1,805,456.00  $133,637.45  11,024  72.68%
16-Oct    $942,631.85  $1,805,456.00   $12,985.60  11,261  74.24%
23-Oct  $1,060,597.10  $1,805,456.00  $117,965.25  12,650  83.40%
30-Oct  $1,005,388.40  $1,805,456.00  -$55,208.70  12,437  81.99%
06-Nov    $884,873.95  $1,805,456.00 -$120,514.45  10,981  72.40%
13-Nov    $917,418.25  $1,805,456.00   $32,544.30  11,378  75.01%
20-Nov    $883,963.20  $1,805,456.00  -$33,455.05  10,527  69.40%
27-Nov  $1,078,535.00  $1,805,456.00  $194,571.80  10,412  68.64%
04-Dec    $927,404.50  $1,805,456.00 -$151,130.50  10,356  68.28%

Zeiger said that most of the business for Paramour followed an industry-wide trend that sees ticket lower advance sales for all but the biggest blockbusters. The advance for Paramour is $4 million, he said, all but $100K of it between now and mid-April. “We will be sad to part with Cirque du Soleil, by which time they will have completed a very successful year on Broadway,” said Mark Cornell, CEO of Ambassador Theatre Group. “The fact that Cirque du Soleil chose to debut its first Broadway show – a great achievement – at The Lyric, was an honor for us at ATG.”

“Paramour” will leave the Lyric on April 16, 2017, a year after it began performances. The Lyric will then close for renovations, starting in May. “By the time we leave New York, based on our level of business and our deal structure with Ambassador, it’s going to be a good deal for Cirque,” he said.

Well, that’s all I have time for this month. Let’s get to the rest!

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