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Cirque opts for ‘The Illusionists’ over ‘R.U.N’ for ‘One Night’ show

Updated January 29, 2020 - 7:41 am

There is a second plan for Cirque’s night of firsts for “One Night For One Drop.”

“The Illusionists” magic ensemble production now is center stage at Luxor for the annual charity show set for March 27. “R.U.N” had been announced in December as the show performing that single presentation in its home theater. No longer. The new live-action vehicle has been pulled in favor of “The Illusionists,” which has been a hit on Broadway and on tour.

“One Night” launched at O Theater at Bellagio in 2013, and always has showcased an original show produced by and featuring Cirque artists from the company’s Strip productions. Spotlighting an existing Strip show to perform “One Night” was a new concept. So is bringing in a show owned by Cirque that is not a current Las Vegas production.

“This falls in line with the concept of bringing what’s brand new, and this is a show that will be specially curated for ‘One Night For One Drop,’” “One Night” Executive Producer Jerry Nadal said in a phone chat Monday afternoon. “This is a specially curated show for the event, it became available to us, and it has been a hit show on Broadway.”

Nadal said the “One Night” team began talks with “Illusionists” producer Simon Painter about two weeks ago. Nadal and Cirque officials emphasize that the “One Night” event will be presented in the same scale as years past, with a pre-party and after-party at the host hotel. This year, in another first, Cirque and One Drop founder Guy Laliberte is manning the DJ booth.

One Drop is the charity that supports safe water projects internationally, and also supports clean water initiatives in Southern Nevada (tickets and information are available at www.onenight.onedrop.org).

Every year, Cirque has developed a special water-themed show to match the charity’s objectives. Last year, the show featured a performance by composer Hans Zimmer and an appearance by Blue Man Group, also a Luxor production and a Cirque acquisition. The performance was recorded as a CBS special co-hosted by Kevin Frazier of “Entertainment Tonight” and Olympic gold medal figure skater and TV personality Tara Lipinski.

Cirque owns “The Illusionists” production after its purchase of The Works collection of titles last February. Billed as a “magic spectacular,” the show enjoyed box office and critical success in its Broadway run last December. The production also has headlined London’s West End, and is touring versions in the U.S. and Eastern Europe this spring.

The production cropped up as Phil Ruffin purchased Circus Circus, when the incoming owner mentioned plans for the production in his appearance before the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Dec. 4. He elaborated on those objectives two weeks later, later has said he has plans stage the show in a new 2,000-seat, $11 million theater. There has been no update on talks between Ruffin and Cirque since December.

A pair of “Illusionists” alumni, two-time “America’s Got Talent” magician Shin Lim and his mentalist sidekick, Colin Cloud, currently are headlining at the Mirage. The stars of the “One Night” show are to be announced.

As for “R.U.N,” the show is off to a rocky start since its Oct. 24 premiere and has been battered on such travel websites as TripAdvisor, where it has garnered two out of five stars among customer reviews. The show is not selling tickets past April 30, its future beyond that date still undetermined.

Officials say they are working to “hone the show content to speak directly to its interned audience and market it appropriately.” It would not be the first Cirque show subject to such post-premiere attention.

Nadal certainly can attest to that. He was a top executive for Cirque for 21 years through September, leaving his post as senior vice president of the company’s resident division take the interim CEO post at KNPR. Nadal was involved with all variety of Cirque openings, and compares the early days of “R.U.N” to the adult-comedy show “Zumanity’s” sluggish opening months in 2003.

“I think with the launch of ‘R.U.N,’ where you are trying to create content concept of live-action thriller onstage, it’s a process,” Nadal said. “Everything Cirque has done is a process. Some shows come out of the gate better than others, and you look at the major departure in 2003 with ‘Zumanity.’ It’s on the same trajectory, and ‘Zumanity’ has run for 16 years.

“The company is looking to hone ‘R.U.N,’ and they now have a chance to do that.”

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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