Cirque du Soleil looking to expand into Broadway-style shows

A performer in Cirque du Soleil's touring show "Totem."
(Christina House / For The Times)

Cirque du Soleil is looking to diversify its repertoire by expanding into Broadway-style shows and is creating a new division called Cirque du Soleil Theatrical that will be headed by Las Vegas theater impresario Scott Zeiger.

The Montreal-based Cirque said on Tuesday that the new division will mount new productions that will use the company’s signature style and aesthetic, but that will provide a “very different experience” for Cirque du Soleil audiences.

A New York spokeswoman said that the productions are meant for Broadway, London’s West End and tours traveling to Broadway-sized venues.


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Zeiger worked as an executive with Clear Channel and later co-founded BASE Entertainment, where he has been instrumental in mounting theatrical productions in Las Vegas including “Jersey Boys,” “Rock of Ages” and “Phantom -- The Las Vegas Spectacular.”

In a statement about his decision to join Cirque, Zeiger said he believed “there is a huge potential for us on Broadway, the West End and global touring.”

Cirque has had mixed success in New York. It’s production “Banana Shpeel” flopped when it was produced in 2010 at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side. With a reported budget of $20 million, “Shpeel” was intended to compete with Broadway shows but ended up closing after six weeks following vicious reviews and poor box-office receipts.

Cirque continues to bring its touring shows to New York and has produced “Zarkana” at Radio City Music Hall. The company is coming off a difficult couple of years in which it laid off 400 employees, or 8% of its global workforce. Its Los Angeles show “Iris” closed last year, much earlier than expected, following weak box-office results.

Cirque du Soleil Theatrical will be based in New York, with Zeiger expected to join in March.



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