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.
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.
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.
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