Cirque du Soleil eschews acrobats in next Las Vegas Strip production

Updated January 12, 2018 - 9:09 am

There are some certainties in Cirque du Soleil’s largely abstract world. One is that Criss Angel’s “Mindfreak Live!” production closes at Luxor Oct. 28.

And there won’t be another Cirque-produced magic show taking its place.

And, we’ve always expected Cirque shows to highlight acrobatics, the “circus” theme of the company’s very title.

Not so fast.

The next production Cirque stages on the Strip will be devoid of the very acrobatics that made the company the dominant production vehicle in the city.

“We are working on a new show concept with MGM Resorts, brand-new for the Luxor, and an entirely new avenue for the company,” Cirque du Soleil Senior Vice President Jerry Nadal said Thursday at Mandalay Bay, following a preview of a scene from the “One Night for One Drop” charity show set for March 2 at the Michael Jackson One Theater. “No magic, and no acrobats. This is an entirely new avenue of performance for us.”

Nadal declined to say what “avenue” is being pursued. Cirque has expanded its roster of production shows by acquiring Blue Man Group, also at Luxor, and is producing the NFL Experience multimedia and performance attraction in Times Square in New York. The company also combined acrobats and proper musical theater with “Paramour,” which closed in April after a yearlong run at Lyric Theater in New York.

“We have seven shows in Las Vegas, and eight if you count Blue Man Group, on the Strip, and our challenge is to try to differentiate them,” Nadal said. “We need to look at what’s next for Cirque,” Nadal said, adding that much depends on the company’s ownership group, headed up by TPG Capital, which purchased the company from founder Guy Laliberté for $1.5 billion in April 2015. “When our new owners came in, they said, ‘We didn’t buy you for what you have been or what you are, we bought you for what you can become.’ And that is a global, live entertainment leader.”

Nadal added that the company is in “growth mode,” beyond its purchase of Blue Man Group, a Strip hit since 2000. Cirque has developed an ice-themed production, “Crystal,” which premieres in Montreal in December and plays San Diego on March 21-25 (and don’t rule out frozen water as a theme for the new Luxor show, either).

“We are looking at whatever new product is out there, and we have creative minds that are always looking to branch out,” Nadal said. But he emphasized that the company is not seeking to snap up another successful production on the Strip, similar to its purchase of the Blue Men.

Asked if Cirque might make a move on existing show on the Strip, Nadal said, “No, not that we’re looking at now.”

More Mandalay Bay

“One Night for One Drop,” which helps raise money and awareness for Cirque’s international water-conservation initiatives, is being staged for the second time at the Michael Jackson One Theater. That venue was selected about a year ago, announced just after the 2017 show at Zumanity Theater at New York-New York.

Though not planned, the show should give a boost to stagnant business at Mandalay Bay after the Oct. 1 shootings at Route 91 Harvest festival.

“The show will put the spotlight on Mandalay Bay, and it’s been tough on this end of the Strip after Oct. 1,” Nadal said. “But we’re having big event here for a big cause, and it will put the name of the property back in a positive light. It wasn’t planned that way, of course, but we are really happy about that.”

Look West …

A pair of long-awaited announcements is in the offing at Westgate Las Vegas’s International Theater. Taken in order, we’re looking for a February launch of the Clint Holmes/Earl Turner co-headlining production in that theater. Barry Manilow’s highly anticipated residency is reportedly being reviewed and I keep being told “we’re close” by those who have knowledge of his in-progress contract with the hotel.

Piff-tastic!

The comedy-magic show “Piff The Magic Dragon,” starring John Van der Put as the dragon-costumed magician, is recording a possible TV special at Bugsy’s Cabaret at Flamingo Las Vegas. Shows at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. are being banked for pitches to Netflix and Amazon. The cast will be joined by the similarly costumed “Pop The Magic Dragon,” or Piff’s father, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Penn Jillette. (For more about the development of Piff’s act and the dragon’s plans, catch this interview with him and showgirl sidekick Jade Simone on my KUNV 91.5-FM radio show.)

Who Was Where

A-listers Neil Patrick Harris and Colin Farrell on Monday at the 7 p.m. performance of “Michael Jackson One” … Exceedingly confident Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman at Cabo Wabo Cantina at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday afternoon … Vegas Golden Knight Reid Duke and ex-NBA star Metta World Peace at the Friday night performance of “Blue Man Group” at Luxor … “Vanderpump Rules” star Scheana Shay and musician/choreographer/actor Chester Lockhart, now co-starring in “Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man” at Paris Las Vegas, on Wednesday night at Topgolf at MGM Grand.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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