Are Broadway audiences ready to fall in love with Cirque du Soleil?
"Paramour," its first show conceived expressly for Broadway, will test the company as it seeks to diversify beyond its signature acrobatic spectaculars and take on the world of musical theater.
Cirque is announcing on Wednesday that "Paramour" is set to open at the Lyric Theatre in New York in 2016. The show will integrate stage actors with the company's familiar acrobats to tell a Hollywood-set story about a "young poet forced to choose between love and art," according to the company.
The show is set to begin previews on April 16, 2016, with an official opening set for June 2, 2016. The Lyric Theatre is one of Broadway's biggest houses and is currently the home of "On the Town."
The theater had been the home of "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," when the venue was known as the Foxwoods Theatre.
For "Paramour," the Montreal-based Cirque is bringing back many of the same faces who worked on "Iris," which opened in Los Angeles in 2011 and closed in early 2013, following weak ticket sales.
"Iris" director Philippe Decouflé will return to stage "Paramour," along with choreographer Daphné Mauger, Oscar-nominated set designer Jean Rabasse and costume designer Philippe Guillotel.
Music for "Paramour" is being written by the team known as "Bob & Bill" -- real names, Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard. The team has written music for several Cirque shows, though not "Iris."
Like "Iris," the new production will have a movie theme, taking place during the Golden Age of Hollywood. While Cirque productions are traditionally driven by acrobatic stunts as opposed to a story, "Paramour" will feature a book-driven plot complemented by aerial acts.
Cirque didn't offer casting or additional plot details.
Last year, Cirque established a new theatrical division with the intent of producing Broadway-style shows to be seen in New York, London and on the road. Cirque du Soleil Theatrical is headed by former Las Vegas theater impresario Scott Zeiger.
The new Cirque division is also involved with the previously announced revival of "The Wiz" on Broadway, set for the 2016-17 season.
Cirque has a spotty record when it comes to shows in New York. "Banana Shpeel" flopped when it was produced in 2010 at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side. The show, which was intended to have a long run, closed after six weeks following negative reviews and poor box-office receipts.
"Paramour" is the latest attempt by Cirque to diversify beyond its acrobatic productions and traveling big-top shows. In addition to launching a Broadway division, the company has partnered with James Cameron to create an "Avatar"-themed show called "Toruk," which will begin touring in November.
Cirque announced earlier this year the sale of a majority stake to the global private equity firm TPG in what Cirque said was a bid to fuel growth and expand its markets. The change in leadership, which also includes the sale of a stake to Fosun, a Chinese investment group, represented the end of an era for Cirque, which has long been controlled by founder Guy Laliberté.