Cirque du Soleil has seven resident shows in Las Vegas and two more imminent. But if you think that sounds like oversaturation, think again. Each of the famously lavish productions, which the Canadian entertainment giant describes as a “dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment,” offers a wonderfully unique experience. “Guy Laliberté, the owner of the company, insists that we never repeat ourselves,” explained James Hadley, senior artistic director for many of Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas shows. “Every show we create pushes the boundaries.”
Laliberté assembles a distinct creative team for each Cirque production. A show like “KÀ,” for example, has an epic, cinematic feel keeping with the film and opera background of its creator/director Robert Lepage. By contrast, “The Beatles LOVE” is more about music and celebration — a reflection of writer/director Dominic Champagne’s prior work in theater and cabaret.
Individual Cirque shows also evolve over time, with the introduction of new elements. Both “Mystère” and “Viva ELVIS,” for example, have recently added new acts.
“We really try and stay with the artistic vision of the original creative team, but within that there’s a lot
of flexibility,” Hadley said. Here’s our look at Cirque’s delightfully diverse Las Vegas lineup.
MYSTÈRE at Treasure Island
Opened in 1993, “Mystère” is Cirque’s original resident Vegas show and personifies its signature combination of jaw-dropping acrobatics, gorgeous music and stunning costumes. The show’s move to a permanent theater after nearly a decade of staging shows in temporary big tops allowed Cirque to elevate contemporary circus to a high art. “Mystère” is the perfect introduction to the world of Cirque.
“O” at Bellagio
With world-class acrobats, synchronized swimmers, divers and characters performing on, in and above a 1.5-million-gallon pool, “O” is an artistic and technological wonder, at once otherworldly and poetic. It makes a great “date show,” too.
ZUMANITY at New York-New York
Billed as “The Sensual Side of Cirque du Soleil,” the adults-only “Zumanity” is also rich with humor, acrobatics and fun. Its cabaret-style format allows for a constant rotation of acts, meaning you’ll rarely see the same show twice. Performed at close quarters in an intimate theater, “Zumanity” is an uninhibited exploration of sexuality that has evolved enormously since its 2003 debut.
KÀ at MGM Grand
Centered around a colossal rotating stage, “KÀ” is an escapist tale of love and conflict that begins to envelop the audience from the moment they enter the theater. Featuring 80 performers from a variety of cultures and artistic and athletic disciplines, “KÀ” is a sensory adventure. Audience members often leave the theater in a glow of wonderment and awe.
THE BEATLES LOVE at The Mirage
Born out of a personal friendship between late Beatle George Harrison and Laliberté, “LOVE” reimagines the Beatles’ music for existing fans and serves as a colorful crash course for those unfamiliar with the band’s time-tested tunes. The “feel-good factor” of this Mirage-based musical spectacular cannot be overstated.
CRISS ANGEL Believe at Luxor Las Vegas
A partnership between Cirque and master magician Criss Angel, “Believe” is the company’s most mind-bending show, showcasing Angel’s celebrated large-scale illusions and intricate micro-magic (projected onto big screens). Angel’s famed perfectionism ensures that “Believe” is ever-changing.
Viva ELVIS at ARIA Resort & Casino
With a live band and singers, “Viva ELVIS” brings the music of the King to a new generation of listeners through an experience that’s part rock concert, part Cirque spectacular. The show recently added two new acts and is scheduled to close in August, so now is the time to see this unique telling of Elvis Presley’s life story.
Cirque du Soleil is also bringing its touring “Zarkana” production to Vegas as a permanent show this fall, when “Viva ELVIS” at ARIA ends its residency. “Zarkana” blends signature Cirque acrobatics with an edgy Tim Burton-esque aesthetic. It has already played in New York, Moscow and Madrid.
Also Vegas-bound is a more theatrical resident version of Cirque’s concert-like “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour,” which debuted in October of 2011. Produced in partnership with the late pop star’s estate, the show is built around Jackson’s music. The resident show, which Hadley describes as “completely different” from its touring incarnation, is expected to open at Mandalay Bay early next year.
—Paul Rogers, Custom Publishing WriterCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times