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Top Cirque official splits with company as sides ‘mutually’ agree

Updated January 31, 2024 - 2:19 pm

Cirque du Soleil’s top-ranking official in Las Vegas has split with the company.

Cirque President, Resident Shows Division and Affiliate Shows Division Eric Grilly is out, effective Feb. 12.

Grilly is the former CEO of VStar Entertainment, joining Cirque in its acquisition of VStar in 2018.

Mike Newquist has been promoted to lead the division. Newquist had resigned as President, Touring Shows Division in July to join the Raiders as COO in August.

Newquist was let go after three months at that post. The team offered no explanation. Newquist was also senior vice president of event development for UFC before his first stint at Cirque.

Company spokeswoman Ann Paladie confirmed the moves Tuesday night. She said in a statement:

“We have mutually agreed to part ways and we thank Eric Grilly for his numerous contributions during his tenure at Cirque du Soleil, specifically leading us back into operations following the shutdown. We look forward to having Mike Newquist, a seasoned entertainment executive and a former leader of our touring shows division step into the role of president for a seamless transition.”

Reached via text Tuesday night, Grilly said he was at a company dinner and had no comment.

During Grilly’s tenure, Cirque closed the adult-comedy revue “Zumanity” at New York-New York during COVID-19, in favor of the variety show “Mad Apple.” The company swung and missed just before the pandemic shutdown with the ambitious “R.U.N” at Luxor. In 2023, “Mystere” celebrated its 30th anniversary, “O” at Bellagio turned 25 and “Michael Jackson One” 10 marked 10 years at Mandalay Bay.

Maintaining these many seamless partnerships is critical in Newquist’s new role. All of Cirque’s resident shows in Las Vegas are resort partnerships: “Ka” at MGM Grand, “Mad Apple,” “MJ One” and “O” with MGM Resorts International; “Mysere” with T.I. owner Phil Ruffin; and “Love” at the Mirage with Hard Rock Las Vegas.

Though “Ka” and “Love” have reportedly struggled at the box office since the pandemic reopening, the company has had a solid box office showing since the COVID-19 relaunch. Mainstays “O” and “Mystere” have fueled Cirque’s recovery.

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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