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Cirque graveyard: ‘Beatles Love’ joins ‘Viva Elvis,’ ‘Zarkana’ as shows that have closed

Updated April 11, 2024 - 12:25 am

“Love” will at least play to its crescendo, like the crash of pianos closing “A Day in the Life.”

The Beatles-Cirque production at The Mirage closes July 7. It rocked and rolled (and jumped and soared) for 18 years.

But Cirque’s cabaret revue “Zumanity” was not afforded a bonafide final bow when it performed its final show in March 2020. The “Zu” crew left the stage because of COVID, finding out months later it would be shut down permanently.

Cirque’s lone adult-themed show was among the daring productions that have nonetheless closed on the Strip. These productions were filled with terrific talent. Some simply exhausted their audience. Others were taken down because of incompatible, architectural ideas. At least one was undercut by a graphic-novel concept it would have taken several months to get right.

A look the Cirque shows that ran for varying amounts of time before closing on the Strip:

‘Viva Elvis’

Opened: Feb. 19, 2010

Closed: Aug. 31, 2012

The show seemed bulletproof, performing at a lush, customized Aria theater. Cirque was an impenetrable brand, paired with Elvis and his uniquely enduring legacy in Las Vegas. But what seemed a gold record failed to climb the charts.

But “Viva” struggled to find balance between Cirque’s swirling acrobatics and Elvis’ biography and song catalog. The show featured artists in superhero-fashioned jumpsuits, bounding around the stage on trampolines. Another showed cowboys doing tricks with flaming ropes. The fire alarm interrupted “Blue Suede Shoes,” an ominous sign.

A full re-write improved the show, but Elvis fan were dissatisfied, Cirque fans confused. The saving grace is this show is where we met Priscilla Presley, who fought for Elvis’ image to shine through. Even through the “Viva Elvis” saga, the legacy of the King, and the ingenuity of Cirque, survived.

‘Zarkana’

Opened: Nov. 9, 2012

Closed: April 30, 2016

The show that replaced “Viva” at Aria starred a dark, tortured magician, Zark, his name a blend of “bizarre” and “arcane.”

I remember attending s press performance of the show at Radio City Music Hall, where it had been showcased before uprooting for Vegas. Robin Leach and I sat next to each other that night, and about halfway through I leaned over and said, “This is a Cirque greatest-hits show. Why am I seeing this when I can go to ‘Mystere?’”

I brought up that point at the news conference hosted by Cirque officials the next day, to grim response.

We also learned of Cirque’s specialized, fictional language at the “Zarkana” preview. It was referred to as “Cirque-ish,” or “Saltimbanco Language,” developed for the touring show of that name. Robin and I actually talked drafting a glossary of such terms as “Miracula Æternitatis.”

The happy gibberish was used sparsely in the Vegas production, which as anticipated felt like a darker adaptation of “Mystere.” The show halted when MGM Resorts turned the theater into convention space. They say you can still hear the plaintive wail of the Ghost of Zark.

‘R.U.N’

Opened: October 2019

Closed: March 8, 2020

Cirque attempted to reach beyond its proven formula of stitching together acrobatic acts by going with full-storytelling production. This was not a page-turner, or a turnstile-turner. Graphic novelist Robert Rodriguez’s story was indiscernible amid video mapping, electric motorcycle chases and martial-arts fights in the crowd.

“R.U.N” did have impressive gymnastic effects and tightly choreographed donnybrooks. But the Cirque audience had little appreciation, and scant patience, for this novel concept. “R.U.N” was supposed to read as, “Are you in?” Too many ticket-holders said, “Nah, I’m good.”

‘Zumanity’

Opened: Sept. 29, 2003

Final show: March 14, 2020; permanent closing announced Nov. 16, 2020.

Talk to longtime member of the Cirque community about opening party. I think it went on for 10 days. Not really. But two, at least, held on the roof of New York-New York’s parking garage.

Cirque went with high risk in this one, developing two characters that walked the crowd with a pair of 6-foot-long pythons. They once escaped their cage and were lost for four days. Panic reigned until the snakes were found in the ceiling, wrapped around hot-water pipes. On opening night, Joey Arias, his eyesight blurred by eye-coloring contacts, referred to a woman near the stage as a hooker. She was a suddenly insulted Paris Hilton, who stormed from the venue.

Maybe Hilton can return for a stunt-cast role in “Mad Apple,” which moved into the room where “Zumanity” was an orgy of fun.

Cool Hang Alert

In the icon-magic-comedy genre, Fielding West is front and center at Ahern Hotel’s A Stars Comedy Show series in the hotel’s second-floor entertainment annex. Show times are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. West will perform some tricks, and spin yarns e his 44-year career in VegasVille. Check him out. You’ll leave enriched, educated and smiling.

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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