Issue #161: JUN 2017

June 9, 2017 Richasi

Welcome to the latest edition of Fascination, the Unofficial Cirque
du Soleil Newsletter.

OYEZ! OYEZ!

There’ve been a number of new developments and announcements since our last issue. Here’s a quick round-up:

CIRQUE AND MÖTLEY CRÜE??? — Right at press time, Robin Leach through his “niche division” of the Las Vegas Review-Journal heard a couple of “rock related” whispers… “Are Cirque du Soleil execs taking a hard look at staging a new Las Vegas show centered on the antics and adventures of the legendary heavy metal group Motley Crue?” he asked. “The rockers — singer and Las Vegas resident Vince Neil, drummer Tommy Lee, bass guitarist Nikki Sixx and lead guitarist Mick Mars — formed in January 1981 and officially retired last year.” Robin is usually on top of things with regards to Vegas entertainment, so we’ll have to wait for more details, and of course, an official announcement.

VAREKAI TO CLOSE DECEMBER 23, 2017! — That’s right… after 15 years of touring around the globe in over 200 cities and 43 countries, Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai will take its final bow on December 23, 2017, in Sugar Land, Texas, following a few brief stops in North America. Launched in Montreal in 2002, the show has had an exceptional run, touring 11 years under the Big Top and 4 years in arenas. The colorful world of Varekai, with its enchanted forest and energetic performances, has already won over more than 11 million spectators. By the end of its run, the show will have been performed over 5,200 times. “I pay tribute to this wonderful show and salute all the artists, technicians and employees who have made Varekai one of the brightest jewels of Cirque du Soleil” explained Jean-François Bouchard, Chief Creative Officer. The cast of Varekai comprises 50 artists from 12 different nationalities. Varekai continues its European tour until October and will be presented in North America until the end of December. Tickets can be purchased online for the European performances at www.cirquedusoleil.com/varekai. Tickets for the North American performances will go on sale shortly.

ZUMANITY CELEBRATES 6,500TH PERFORMANCE — The title kind of says it all. On May 23, 2017 at 9:00pm, Zumanity officially celebrated its 6,500th performance. Congratulations!

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JAPAN? — TOTEM, which just wrapped up its year-and-a-half-long tour of Japan in Sendai (visiting Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka as well), will be followed up in the land of the rising sun with KURIOS – CABINET OF CURIOSITIES beginning February 2018! As of press time the full tour has not been announced, but expect the show to visit the same cities TOTEM did. In the meantime, check out the Japanese tour site for a little teaser of what’s to come! What about other shows you might ask? While the ITINERAIRE section is where you’ll note the majority of tour stop changes, we’re also happy to announce that our friends down under will be blessed with TORUK-THE FIRST FLIGHT very soon. Enjoy!

VOLTA CD/DVD TO BE RECORDED SOON! — According to Darius Harper, VOLTA’s male singer, via his Instagram account, both the CD and DVD for the show will be recorded shortly. This is good news! We can’t wait to have the musical album or to see the show on our TV screens! Although this begs the question: when might we see these released? For the album I am uncertain, but for the DVD, we’re looking at – at least five to six months until the product comes to shelves. Luzia was filmed in May/June 2016 and released mid-November. Toruk was filmed at its December gala premiere and its DVD was released in July 2016. Kurios was filmed December 2016 in Miami and was just released at the beginning of May. So… about five to six months for editing and such. Stay tuned!

CIRQUE AT SEA SHOWS UNVEILED — MSC Crusies revealed the names and concepts for the two exclusive Cirque du Soleil at SEA shows that will be performed on board the MSC Meraviglia, which came into service on June 4th. The two very different, contrasting shows – Viaggio and Sonor – each lasting 40 minutes will be performed twice a night for six nights in the ship’s Carousel Lounge high-tech theater. Check out the two articles within our news section this month for more information.

CASTING CALL FOR HANGZHOU 2018 SHOW — In addition to the aforementioned “The Empress” and “The King” characters / singers in a previous issue, Cirque Casting is looking for 4 new roles to fill for Hangzhou 2018: A physical comedian or a clown to play the role of Khino, the Harlequin-style character; a middle-aged physical actor to play the role of the Old Blind Man; a middle-aged physical actor to play the role of the Counselor; and physical actor or actress of Asian heritage with acrobatic skills to play the role of Hou, a playful “Monkey King” character type.

AMERICAN DREAM IN 2019? — American Dream, the long-stalled retail, dining and entertainment destination in New Jersey, has a new opening date—and some badly needed new funding. Triple Five Group of Companies, owners and operators of Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall, announced that it has closed on $1.67 billion private construction financing for American Dream. The project, located in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and close to Manhattan, is now slated to open in March 2019. What makes this of interest to Cirque fans is this statement: “The developer has signed up an impressive list of entertainment attractions for the project, including DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, Big Snow Indoor Ski & Snowboard Park, a 1,350-seat live-performance Cirque Du Soleil theater, Sea Life Aquarium, Legoland Discovery Center, Kidzania, an 18-hole miniature golf course, and an NHL-size ice rink. The project will also feature an expensive lineup of department stores and specialty retailers, ranging from Saks Fifth Avenue to Hermès, along with an assortment of restaurants.”

NFL EXPERIENCE TIMES SQUARE SNEAK PEEK! — NFL Experience Times Square on Wednesday, May 3rd revealed the first detailed look inside the state-of-the-art interactive attraction that promises to bring football fans closer to the game than ever before. Opening this November, the NFL Experience Times Square offers fans a chance to step into the shoes of an NFL player using a 4D cinematic experience, physical challenges, augmented reality, and various immersive elements to give fans the ability to step into the huddle. “NFL Experience Times Square is the next level of entertainment for new and life-long football fans alike,” says Danny Boockvar, President of NFL Experience Times Square. “This must-see attraction will allow residents and tourists to experience the game like never before.” Take a peek inside the NFL Experience – Times Square in the news section within.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL CRYSTAL IS ANNOUNCED!

Over the last few weeks-to-months, the Cirque du Soleil rumor mill has been in a stir over just one word – QUARTZ. It’s something we here at Fascination touched briefly on in our February 2017 issue (as we were sworn to secrecy)… but now Cirque du Soleil has made that announcement!

Cirque du Soleil is thrilled to venture into uncharted territory with its brand new creation, Cirque du Soleil Crystal, exploring the artistic attributes of ice for the very first time. The state-of-the-art production will create a fresh innovative experience, pushing the boundaries once again by combining outstanding skating and sliding, remarkable aesthetics and acrobatic feats that defy the imagination. Here’s the story thus far: A young woman shatters through reality to reach the surreal world of possibility. Beyond the surface, she pursues the life that has been glistening beneath. Sometimes, we must first leave solid ground to find our true footing. Let reality slip away as Cirque du Soleil Crystal glides above a most unusual reflection.

“We are excited to create a unique entertainment experience on ice for all spectators to enjoy. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Cirque du Soleil as ice provides us with an entirely new field of play which also comes with a set of creative challenges. Our goal is to continuously surprise audiences by showcasing all the incredible possibilities on ice” explained Yasmine Khalil, Executive Producer of Crystal.

Specifically created for arenas, Crystal will tour the world starting in Lafayette, Louisiana on October 5, 2017. The show will be presented in a few cities in the United States before visiting Quebec City and Montreal later this year. (Check out our ITINERAIRE section for tour information). Discover Cirque du Soleil Crystal – A breakthrough ice experience. Skate on the edge of reality! In the meantime, check out the teaser video:

CIRQUE IN DUBAI… AGAIN

If you’ve been following Fascination for years, news of Cirque du Soleil planning to reside within the borders of the United Arab Emirates shouldn’t come as a shock. We’ve been hearing about Cirque in Dubai off-and-on for years. The first, you may recall, back in May 2007 when Arabian Business Online confirmed rumors that Cirque du Soleil signed a multi-million dollar, 15-year deal for a show at the heart of the Palm Jumeirah following the smashing success of Quidam in Dubai earlier that year. This new show was expected to open by first quarter 2010, with an official premiere to occur in December of that year, but… what should also come as no surprise… the show was delayed. And then it was delayed again. By March 2009, as the business world became gripped by the global economic crisis, the show was pushed off yet again. Brett Judd, Head of Entertainment and Leisure for Nakheel, said: “As with any other company, [the financial crisis] has made us reassess our projects, but the show is going ahead [for 2012].”

By June 2011, it was clear this show would not go on. “There is no plan for a Cirque du Soleil permanent base in Dubai at all right now. This project has been set aside,” company’s then Corporate PR Manager Chantal Côté said. Asked if Cirque was in talks with any other companies in the UAE to host a permanent show, Côté said: “We are not speaking to any other party in the UAE.” Confirmation that Cirque du Soleil would not pursue the Dubai show did not come as a surprise, as news about the show had been scarce. (The only thing we’d learned about the show was that in an interview with Fascination (which you can read here: http://www.cirquefascination.com/?p=1593), Martin Lord Ferguson and Ella Allaire eluded that they had written demo songs for the show.

And that’s the way things remained until mid-2015, when rumors – whispers really – began to surface about Cirque in Dubai once again. This concept, we were told, would be a much smaller effort though – a boutique show in a black-box theater (a simple, somewhat unadorned performance space, usually a large square room with black walls and a flat floor). But if the current announcements are to be believed, and I have no reason not to, that concept has been thrown out the door.

On May 14, 2017, Dubai Holdings announced Marsa Al Arab, a mega-project spread over a 4 million sq ft area comprising two islands on both sides of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah to be developed at a cost of Dh6.3 billion ($1.71 billion). Adding 2.2 km of beach frontage, the comprehensive tourist destination aims to elevate the family tourism proposition in Dubai, provide supporting foundations to host Expo 2020 Dubai, as well as reinforce Jumeirah Group’s leading position locally and globally as one of the driving forces behind the growth and prosperity of the tourism sector. The project will break ground in June this year and will be completed by late 2020. Marsa Al Arab comprises two islands on both sides of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. One will be dedicated to entertainment and family tourism, while the other comprises an exclusive luxury resort. And one of the offerings the new family destination will offer is a dedicated theater with a capacity of 1,700 seats, which will become home to the world-renowned show Cirque du Soleil for the first time in the Middle East.

Daniel Lamarre, the president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, said: “Dubai’s unique geographical position between East and West, along with its regionally unparalleled infrastructure and sophisticated hospitality offering means that demand is strong for a beloved and enduring institution such as Cirque du Soleil, and we look forward to raising the curtain for new fans in this new facility with new shows designed specifically for Dubai. Cirque du Soleil already enjoys great patronage from residents and visitors alike and we are pleased to now have a permanent base in the new epicenter of global tourism.”

Cirque seems really serious this time so check out the full release in the news section within for a few more details.

WHAT YOU’LL FIND WITHIN

On April 28, 2017, Cirque du Soleil presented in Montreal the world premiere of its latest production, VOLTA. Last issue I remarked that normally I’d be walking down the cobblestone-lined pathways of the Jacques Cartier Pier in the Vieux Port of Montreal with a couple-thousand Québécois in celebration of this feat. But not this year. It just wasn’t in the cards (or the budget). Although I was unable to attend the premiere of VOLTA with fellow fans and friends of Cirque du Soleil as I normally did, thanks a dear friend I was able to get a little more insight into the show through the texts printed in the show’s programme book. Since sharing that text with you last time, Cirque du Soleil released the full PRESS KIT for VOLTA, which has a lot more information about the show’s scenography, costumes, and, of course, acts within it. So check out “VOLTA: FREEDOM IS THE ULTIMATE RUSH” within.

Two months ago we kicked-off our newest feature series – “We’re Off and Running – A Series of Classic Critiques” – that dives into the archives to examine the first reviews, peeks, and evaluations of Cirque du Soleil’s “classic” touring shows as they took their first steps across North America. The impetus: How did the press see Le Cirque du Soleil in 2002, 1998, 1994, 1990, 1987? What I found extraordinary, and more than I expected. And I’m sharing these discoveries here in Fascination through a series of collections, beginning with the 1987 tournée of Le Cirque du Soleil (better known today as Le Cirque Réinventé), and continuing on from there. Last issue was Part 1 of 16: Le Cirque Réinventé, Part 1 (1987); this month we continue looking at 1988’s reviews of Le Cirque Réinventé.

And last, but certainly not least, a review of Cirque du Soleil’s newest DVD release – KURIOS: CABINET OF CURIOSITIES. At present there’s only two places you can get your hands on it: under the big top at KURIOS and at La Nouba’s Cirque du Soleil Boutique. (Although there are plans to re-vamp the Online Boutique and have the DVD available there… we’re just not sure when!).

Okay, so let’s go!

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