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‘O’ performer injured in new act at Strip show

Updated June 29, 2023 - 6:27 pm

A performer in Cirque du Soleil’s flagship show has been hospitalized after a harrowing incident Wednesday night.

An artist in “O” at Bellagio was injured, taken from the stage on a stretcher and underwent emergency surgery following an accident in the 9:30 p.m. performance.

Multiple sources familiar with the show, speaking under the condition of anonymity, have identified the injured performer as diver Kyle Mitrione. Cirque representatives declined to confirm the identity of the injured cast member.

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Kyle Mitrione (@kyle_diver) • Instagram photos and videos

Mitrione reportedly fractured his neck in the incident and underwent a five-hour emergency surgery overnight that is said to be a success. The 35-year-old artist was reportedly coherent, and could move his extremities, when he was taken from the theater.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Teri Williams said Thursday afternoon the agency will investigate the incident. Cirque complied with OSHA regulations, reporting an injury that requires hospitalization within 24 hours of the incident.

Williams said OSHA officials will be dispatched to the “O” theater to conduct an inspection.

In such cases, an official visits the work site to review injury and illness logs, read training records, evaluate the employer’s safety and health plan, review the work area where the incident took place, collect photos and video of the incident, and conduct interviews with employees and company safety officials.

Cirque spokeswoman Ann Paladie confirmed Thursday morning that an artist had been injured during Wednesday’s production:

“An artist who is part of the barge act was injured diving off the floating barge platform. In accordance with our emergency response protocols, we stopped the show to allow the emergency intervention team of ‘O’ to safely bring the artist backstage where he/she was immediately taken in good care by the medical team.

“As always in the case of an accident, the artist will continue to be monitored by the ‘O’ medical and coaching teams to determine when they return to their activities.”

The show is continuing its usual schedule at Bellagio. Cirque officials met with cast and crew Thursday afternoon to update Mitrione’s condition, and offer mental-health counseling to the employees.

According to sources on the scene of Wednesday’s “O” show, Mitrione was involved in a new act in the production, called Island. The number has been in the show for two weeks.

In the routine, a performers stand on top of one another’s shoulders to form two three-person pyramids (two males at the bottom, a female at the top). They then dive into the aquatic stage.

A pair of two-man acts then appear at the back of the stage. Those performers back-dive into the water and onto a lift — the Island — that rises from the water after the performers dive in. But the timing of the act was off, as the artists reportedly dove in as the Island was rising to the top of the water.

One artist suffered scrapes on his chest and abdomen, and the other — Mitrione —struck his head on the platform. The show was then immediately halted, the curtains drawn, and Mitrione was strapped to a stretcher and taken from the theater.

The performance resumed after the performer was treated in the venue, with an announcement to the audience in the 1,800-seat theater that the performer was OK.

Mitrione is part of the extended Las Vegas entertainment family. His wife, Karolina Melska, is an aerialist who performs in “Fantasy” on Mondays and has also been featured in the Cirque-Beatles “Love” show at the Mirage.

As is evident across social media, Mitrione is an experienced athlete and stunt performer who joined “O” two years ago as it returned from the pandemic shutdown.

Mitrione has been a member of the Red Bull Cliff Diving extreme stunt team, as he’s advanced his career with Cirque in Las Vegas.

In his collegiate career, Mitrione was a standout platform diver at Purdue University. According to the PurdueSports.com website, Mitrione was named the Boilermakers’ swimming and diving team co-captain in 2009-2010, and an honorable mention All-American in 2008-2009.

Mitrione was also a two-time All-American at his hometown Haddonfield (N.J.) Memorial High School, and two-time New Jersey state champion who led his school to the 2004 state championship.

The incident occurred 10 years almost to the day when Cirque suffered its only fatality in a Strip production. On June 29, 2013, “Ka” performer and French acrobat Sarah Guyard-Guillot fell some 95 feet from the show’s rotating stage into the pit after the cable connected to her harness snapped.

In 2020, just weeks before the pandemic shutdown, OSHA investigated two accidents in Cirque shows.

In January of that year, an artist in “O” fell 15 feet from the show’s Russian Swing apparatus and suffered multiple fractures to his back and ribs and damage to his kidney and lungs and required hospitalization.

The following February, an aerial artist in “Love” fell some 20 feet to the stage during the show’s closing number and suffered injuries to his arm and back, along with internal injuries. He was treated on site, hospitalized and returned to the show

“O” is Cirque’s signature production and top-selling show, performing two times a night, five nights a week, dark Mondays and Tuesdays. The show celebrates its 25th anniversary in October, in a string of landmarks for the Strip’s predominant production company. “Michael Jackson One” celebrates its 10th anniversary Thursday. “Mystere” marks its 30th anniversary on Christmas Day.

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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