To get it, sound it out: R.U.N, or “Are you in?”
Cirque du Soleil is banking that the answer is yes.
That is the formal title and overarching theme of the new Cirque show opening at Luxor’s newly named R.U.N Theater on Oct. 24. The production is to run 10 performances per week, at 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Tickets start at $69, not including fees, and are available at cirquedusoleil.com/run or at the theater box office.
“R.U.N” is the first Cirque opening on the Las Vegas Strip since “Michael Jackson One” launched at Mandalay Bay in May 2013. The production replaces “Criss Angel Mindfreak Live” as Cirque’s seventh show currently on the Strip. The project is scheduled to open almost one year to the day after Angel closed his magic production at Luxor.
Months in development and still in its larval stages, “R.U.N” is an aggressive departure from Cirque’s proven formula, in Las Vegas and abroad. Stunts are in, acrobats are out. Check the latest list of blockbuster films for the inspiration behind “R.U.N.”
This show is Cirque’s clear attempt to create an action-movie experience in a live Las Vegas Strip production.
“We have always wanted to work with people from the stunt industry,” Cirque du Soleil president and chief executive officer Daniel Lamarre said during an interview Monday morning at the company’s Las Vegas headquarters. “There is a similarity between acrobatic acts and stunts artistry, which is a mix of human performance and technology.”
Lamarre says that action unfolds with Vegas as the backdrop of a linear script, also a rarity for Cirque. The company customarily tells its stories in whimsical, ethereal fashion (try explaining the story arc in “Mystere” to a first-time audience member). Expect characters to zoom about on motorcycles and hyped-up cars. There are promises of fistic flourishes, too.
“There will be people chasing each other. There will be people literally running around you. There will be fights,” Lamarre says. “The difference here is, it’s a show and not a movie. You’re not just sitting there, you are part of the action.”
More description, from the release announcing the show: “Chapter by chapter, guests will be taken through a gritty, cinematic story featuring bold, rebellious and fearless characters. The show will follow two clans in an adrenaline-filled adventure where a striking bride leads a series of fast-paced chases, combat and stunts through the underground of Las Vegas.”
The production slots into an already brimming entertainment lineup at Luxor. The long-running Carrot Top, “Fantasy,” Blue Man Group, HyperX Esports Arena and the Titanic and Bodies exhibits are the leading entertainment options.
“This show plays well with all the other programming we have at Luxor,” incoming hotel president Cliff Atkinson said in a phone chat Monday. “We have ween especially seen a crossover with the ESports Arena’s target customer and this show.”
The show’s title itself is action-driven. The production had been loosely referred to under the working title “Jump,” but Lamarre’s 21-year-old son, Arthur, saw the word “run” and called off the letters, “Are you in?”
“When you see it that way, you feel the possibility of being part of the action,” Lamarre said. “That is what we were looking for.”
Lamarre and his Cirque team have sought some of the top Hollywood stunt-adventure creators for “R.U.N.” The scriptwriter, Robert Rodriquez, has directed the Mexico trilogy of renegade action films “El Mariachi,” “Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico.” Rodriquez has also collaborated with Quentin Tarrantino on “Kill Bill: Volume 2, “Sin City” and “Grindhouse.”
Not your typical Cirque tenor, of course. But know that even as it is filled with action-adventure themes, “R.U.N” is an all-ages show. It is designed to capture the new order of live-entertainment customer in Las Vegas.
“We looked to our audiences who are seeing Cirque du Soleil shows, and those who are not seeing Cirque shows — there are a few,” Lamarre said, chuckling. “We talked to people who are show-goers and people who are not and asked, ‘What kind of content can we offer to you?’ It was quite compelling in that live action would be a genre to attract new people and also a genre that Cirque du Soleil fan would find interesting.”
Cirque fans who want acrobatics can find them at any of the company’s other Strip shows.
“We want to give people something totally, totally different,” Lamarre says. “When people see Cirque on a banner, they expect spectacle. People will get it with this show, in a heartbeat.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats! podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.