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Cirque du Soleil expands empire with The Works

Updated February 6, 2019 - 1:25 pm

Having closed out a long partnership with a star magician in October, Cirque du Soleil is now saying the art form — not the artist — is the star.

The Strip’s predominant production company has acquired The Works Entertainment, which tours “The Illusionists” magic production among its stage shows. Cirque, of course, ended its partnership with Criss Angel at Luxor in October after a decade-long run.

Among “The Illusionists” productions was its holiday show that ran on Broadway at Marquis Theatre in November and December. “America’s Got Talent” winner Shin Lim, the incoming Mirage headliner who has also ascended to the finals of “AGT: The Champions,” was cast in that production. So was Chloe Crawford, a featured performer in Angel’s “Mindfreak Live” lineup at Luxor.

The Works is also the production company behind “The Naked Magicians,” opening next Wednesday at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand, and it brought the dazzling but soft-selling “Circus 1903” to Paris Theater in 2017.

Cirque President Daniel Lamarre says the company has no plans to develop a new magic production on the Strip in this new partnership. Instead, the company is focused on the new extreme-sports show at Luxor replacing “Mindfreak Live.”

“That show is our priority now,” Lamarre said in a phone chat Wednesday morning. “My one-liner about that show is it’s the first live-action thriller by Cirque du Soleil. We’re developing something for the younger crowd, different from anything we have done in the past.”

Plans are for the production to be announced by the end of March, with previews opening in October. As to reports that the show will be called “Jump,” Lamarre said that title was being used “in-house,” but the new show would have a different name.

“People will be totally excited when they see the final concept,” he added.

Over the past couple of years, Cirque has expanded its scale in Las Vegas and beyond. The company acquired Blue Man Group (still headlining on the Strip at Luxor) in 2017, and VStar Entertainment Group (known for such family friendly fare as “Sesame Street Live” and “Barney & Friends” touring shows) in 2018. A few years ago, Cirque officials also showed interest in Spiegelworld, creators of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace and “Opium” at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, but no agreement ever materialized.

By purchasing The Works, Lamarre told The New York Times in an earlier interview, “The play for us is magic. Like us, they have no stars. The show is the star, and they’re constantly using different magicians. The fact that they’re not focused on stars gives you scalability.”

No financial figure was attached to Wednesday’s announcement, but Lamarre said the cost was about $40 million.

Simon Painter, The Works creative producer and co-founder, said his company was eager to expand under Cirque’s worldwide umbrella.

“As we were reflecting on our company’s future, we were looking for the next big step to fulfill our wildest dreams,” Painter said in a statement. “Joining the team of the company that completely revolutionized circus arts and is now leading the live entertainment industry is a true honor for us. Cirque du Soleil’s global touring expertise as well as large-scale production insights will undeniably fuel our desired future growth in addition to giving us access to new creative resources that we could ever wish for.”

The Mars effect

In case you’re wondering, Bruno Mars’ 11-show series at the Park Theater this year does not take any dates left open by Britney Spears. Mars’ dates had been expected even before Spears called off her “Domination” residency, which left 31 dates open. They are still open. Mars’ return had been planned before Spears’ set her run at the theater.

Brody’s back

Classic-rock trailblazer Brody Dolyniuk is back in town. Locals who date to the mid-1990s know Dolyniuk as the founder of cover band Yellow Brick Road, who forged a strong following for 14 years until he moved to Southern California in 2011. He’s back, making Las Vegas his base as he continues his ZeppelinUSA and The Pink Floyd Wall Experience projects.

Dolyniuk performed “Under Pressure,” singing both the David Bowie and Freddie Mercury parts, at this week’s Monday’s Dark Queen tribute to benefit the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation.

You will be hearing more from Dolyniuk, long a column fave, in the coming months — and his next Pink Floyd show at Reynolds Hall will be Oct. 5. Dolyniuk performed in his “Music of Queen” orchestral show Saturday, and has four such dates in Ivins, Utah; Raleigh, N.C.; Louisville and Milwaukee in March.

Meantime, YBR, the band Dolyniuk founded in 1997, headlines at 10 p.m. Fridays at Sunset Station’s Club Madrid and Saturdays at Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort.

Cool hang alert

Ryan Baker (The Cool Hang Maker) is back with his “Big Band Crooners” show at 8 p.m. Friday at Italian American Club showroom. Baker, who has performed in “Shades of Sinatra” in Las Vegas and toured with Rat Pack-themed productions, is backed by a 17-piece band in his return to IAC. He’s sampling Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, among others. Ticktes are $25 (a mere pittance), available at iacvegas.com, or by calling the club at (702) 457-3866.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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