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Things We Learned During Cirque Week

December 8, 2011 at 1:27 PM | by | ()

Cirque du Soleil brought the 2011 edition of their 10-day fan appreciation experience back to Las Vegas this December and this time we were in attendance.

Cirque Week enticed dozens of hardcore “super fans” looking to receive a “behind the curtain” view into the inner workings of the entertainment juggernaut. Many had seen multiple productions, multiple times. And then there was this VegasChatter correspondent. Yes, drawn by the cat-nip promise of backstage intrigue this reporter is now forced to admit to only ever seeing one previous Cirque production. This week that was changed. And, change we did, as we drank the Cirque du Soleil Kool-Aid and became a true believer.

Price of admission to Cirque Week began at $165 and included two show tickets. At the top end, it was $561 for seven different shows. Combined with hotel rooms during the 10 days, and coinciding with the often premium hotel rate incurred during Rodeo Week, this could have been a pricey commitment. That was certainly reflected in the look of the Cirque Week attendees. Skewed slightly older than imagined. Quiet. Polite. Reserved. Often charming. Often fun. But, universally intelligent. These are smart folks who are passionate. And, ask really smart questions. Some had even witnessed the early origins of the company when they were still street performers back in Canada.

Along with your tickets, came the opportunity to wear, from your registration goodie bag, a souvenir tee, a VIP lanyard, a flashing Cirque electronic luggage tag (that seems destined to cause airport havoc for some poor attendee) and witness 10 behind-the-scenes events. And, boy, were they good. Well-rehearsed, impeccably presented and filled with genuine behind the scene tidbits. Like, secret stuff! Ok, maybe not so secret if they're telling us, but you get the drift.

They even told us the names of the equipment manufacturers. So, if you had the 180 million dollar budget of the Beatles LOVE, you could go out and make your own version. Tommorow! If you had any interest in theatre, or the workings of an unusual, but massive company, you walked away from these sessions filled with ideas and inspiration. Corporations, take note. Send SPIES! You’ll get some insight into business culture that could serve you well.

President of Cirque, Daniel Lamarre, should go on tour as a motivator. He got this writer seriously fired up. Here’s the take aways from him and all the other Cirque staff members who spoke candidly and insightfully --

●You have to be really, really, really good to get hired. But, you end up truly loving your job. (Yes, we know that doesn't explain Criss Angel, but we'll ignore that.)

●It always goes back to “safety.” There is some genuinely scary stuff going on stage.

●The “Resident” division for non-touring Vegas shows is housed in a building out by McCarran Airport. Mysterious.

●The never-heard Beatles' multi-tracks are locked up at the The Mirage. They never leave the building. Maybe there’s potential for an Oceans 11-type heist about stealing those unheard recordings. Did you know there’s a small thematic sub-text of Love being the band’s last concert? Or, that the floor that opens up on stage is shaped like the Union Jack flag? They tell you this stuff.

Viva Elvis is still an “ongoing conversation.” Inside talk from the week has Cirque staff from the closing Tokyo production, ZED, being integrated into next year’s version of Elvis. Of course, we now know that the final curtain is approaching.

●The Michael Jackson show that will open at Mandalay Bay in 2013 will be very different from the current touring version at, um, Mandalay Bay. Hopefully, more than just moving to the old Lion King theater.

●Seeing the sets in full lighting, out of context, is still amazing. If Cirque built weapons, they’d have invaded the U.S. and we’d all be Canadian, eh.

●If you want to appear as an artist (we’re so hip to the lingo now) in a Cirque show, pay the price. Get in line. Walk up to the mike at one of these events and tell them. You’ll get a very helpful, honest and enthusiastic explanation of what to do. Good luck to the two who had the guts to turn up and do just that.

●The physical performers are constantly rehearsing, exercising, healing, working and training. Its exhausting just thinking about it. But Cirque theatre seats are also very relaxing. We’re fine, thanks.

●Gentlemen, you may find yourself texting your special lady friend over-informed descriptions of the Thierry Mugler fashions on display. Nothing to be ashamed of. The pendulum swings back your way at the Zumanity rehearsal.

●Stat porn overload: Number of wigs, lighting cues, crew members, budgets,etc. The answer to any question should probably just be, lots.

●The next un-seen Cirque production is directed by Diane Paulus and is women-centric. In theme and staffing. They showed clips. Now, someone is really jealous.

●Mimes? Yeah, you might not get over your problem that Cirque likes mimes. And, clowns.

So, bottom line? If you are thinking of coming to see a number of Cirque shows and want to delve deeper, Cirque Week is a no-brainer. All week there was talk of how to improve the event for future years. We believe them. Start saving now for the 2012 edition.

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