ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT ARTS & CULTURE Culture Monster

Cirque du Soleil's 'Iris' says 'au revoir' to Hollywood

With a burst of shimmering confetti and streamers, Cirque du Soleil's "Iris" bade a festive "au revoir" to Los Angeles on Saturday at the Dolby Theatre.

The show, which opened in 2011 and is believed to have cost close to $100 million to produce, was supposed to run for at least 10 years in Hollywood but closed much earlier than expected after it had failed to generate sufficient box-office interest.

Saturday evening's final performance of "Iris" managed to achieve what the show struggled to do all along -- playing to a packed house. Cirque officials said that "Iris" has attracted sold-out or nearly sold-out shows since it was announced in late November that it would close.

PHOTOS: Arts and culture in pictures by The Times


Several Cirque leaders were present on Saturday, but they didn't address the audience. Composer Danny Elfman, who wrote the music for the show, was also present. The extended curtain call featured bows by the cast and backstage crew of "Iris."

The production is expected to begin dismantling its sets at the Dolby on Tuesday so that preparation can begin for the Academy Awards ceremony, which will take place on Feb. 24.

The last several weeks have been difficult for the Montreal-based Cirque. The company announced earlier this month that it will lay off 400 individuals, or about 8% of its workforce, in the coming weeks due to what it said are production costs and expenses.

Daniel Lamarre, the president and chief executive officer of Cirque, declined to comment on Saturday. A Cirque spokeswoman said that the recently announced layoffs don't include people from "Iris." She said some of the performers from "Iris" are going to other Cirque shows.

However, almost all of the local support crew and staff for "Iris" are expected to be unemployed. 

"It's the nature of the business," said one crew member, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. He said that attendance has been weak for much of the show's run and that some performances saw attendance as low as 25% capacity.

PHOTOS: Cirque du Soleil: 'Iris'

Another "Iris" staff member, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the show's location at the Hollywood & Highland complex was a turn-off because of the traffic in the area and parking concerns. "You couldn't give tickets away," he said. 

"Iris" was a movie-themed production that featured Cirque's signature acrobatics and aerial stunts. The show had the daunting task of filling the Dolby Theatre as many as 11 times a week. "Iris" also commanded steep ticket prices, with the most expensive seats going for $133 and VIP packages for $253.

Guy Laliberté, the billionaire co-founder and owner of Cirque, wasn't in attendance Saturday evening, but Cirque said that he flew in to L.A. a few weeks earlier to talk the cast and crew of the show.

"Iris" employed about 70 performers along with close to 100 other individuals, including technicians and support staff. Unlike most Cirque shows in the U.S., "Iris" workers were covered by union contracts.

When "Iris" first opened in 2011, it had a running time of more than two hours with intermission. Last year, Cirque shortened the show to about an hour and a half, with no intermission.

ALSO:

Cirque du Soleil's extravagant 'Iris' will close Jan. 19

Why did 'Iris' fail? Cirque show didn't catch on in Los Angeles

Cirque du Soleil laying off 400 workers, citing costs and expenses 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Cirque du Soleil: 'Iris'
    Cirque du Soleil: 'Iris'

    "Iris" was one of the most ambitious productions in Cirque's history. Written and directed by Frenchman Philippe Decoufle with original music by the film composer Danny Elfman, the spectacle surveyed the history of movies from the silent era to the present day.

  • Cirque du Soleil laying off 400 workers, citing expenses
    Cirque du Soleil laying off 400 workers, citing expenses

    Cirque du Soleil is laying off 400 people, mostly from its Montreal headquarters, due to what the company is citing as production costs and expenses. The layoffs represent 8% of the company's global workforce of approximately 5,000.

Comments
Loading