Krista Monson of ‘One Drop’: ‘The paint comes out now, and we make our masterpiece’

Nearly five years ago, Krista Monson created the first “One Night for One Drop” show for Guy Laliberte’s commitment to the One Drop water charity he founded. Now she’s returned as the overall director of creation for the next spectacular production March 3 at “Zumanity” Theater in New York-New York.

Tickets go on sale today as preparations begin for rehearsals now that auditions have been completed. The tax-deductible VIP tickets are $1,500 for the show and post-show extravaganza with performances, Cirque-themed festivities, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Show-only tickets start at $100. Details: OneDrop.org/OneNight and 1-844-33-WATER.

My interview with creators Nicky and Laetitia Dewhurst was posted Sunday and in Sunday Life of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Krista told me as auditions ended and the trio began the final cut to 60 performers:

“It is an awesome responsibility to be back and awesome in another way for me because, after the first year, I left Las Vegas for four years. I did a show in Italy. I’ve been doing other things with different producers.

“I always knew about the collective expertise of Cirque du Soleil, but coming back I realized just how unique, how extraordinary the people are, the individuals are, the international flavor, the sense of caring.

“I worked with the United Nations as the creative director of the first world humanitarian summit in Istanbul. I became really allied to that humanitarian spirit, and our ‘One Night for One Drop’ show is a fusion of that sublime. We have the humanitarian spirit with extraordinary circus acts and performances, so it’s a real privilege, and I’m very proud to work with everybody.”

‘A LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE’

Krista masterminds the entire, complicated logistics of the production, including maneuvering a cast that’s scattered around the world. She explained: “Basically, we had our cast assembled yesterday (Monday), so we now have a rehearsal schedule this month, December, January and all of February, just 16 weeks.

“We’re working with casts from seven shows, all of which have a two-week dark period during that time, so we have to respect people going home, then our guest artists, plus three major holidays. Some of them are coming in December, and they won’t come back for another seven weeks.

“We really have a logistical nightmare. This is not producing a show; it’s producing a jigsaw puzzle. I take away all the headaches of the creative directors and give them all the space they need to write the show and direct it. I give them the tools, the place and the artistic inspiration so that they have the freedom to create it.

“I make sure all the pieces fall into place perfectly. I didn’t just age the first year I did this; honestly, I had nothing left in me. But I watched the ‘One Drop’ shows that followed on video while I was away overseas. It broke my heart not be here for them. There’s nothing like seeing it first hand in the seat. It’s pain and punishment, but I had to return to do this one.

“It’s radically different, but there’s a momentum to it already. I think we’re ready, it’s delicate to say, we’re ready to laugh even though this is a very serious cause. It’s a delicate dance between moving people and entertaining people, and I think the concept that Nicky and Letitia have this year is going to move and entertain but in ways that are unique and extraordinary.

“So, in that way, they’re flying thousands of feet higher looking at the planet. Of course water is a huge part of that, but they’re really daring in terms of all that’s happening, and what is universal is the idea to try to right Earth’s wrongs.

‘A HUGE CHALLENGE’

“It’s a huge challenge. We’ve had the walk for water, we had the water in the show at ‘O,’ and we have to have a spectacle, not a brochure, to make the message resonate. It’s amazing when you think I’ll have 300-plus people all volunteering extraordinary amounts of time for a one-night production.

“The budget is minuscule; they don’t get paid, and they’ll never perform it more than the one occasion. It’s no cabaret, I assure you. It’s an extraordinary commitment, the very best. You will see that commitment this time. As Nicky said, ‘The blood, sweat and tears — no apologies.’

“In the old circuses, the elite performer helped put up the tent, and we’re going to see a part of that, that community of spirit of putting something together, a show within a show. It’s going to be really fun. We went around to all the Cirque shows in Las Vegas and presented it to all the artists, the entire staff, to see who wanted to be involved.

“From the makeup people, the wardrobe costumers to the performers, they all rushed to the stage. They now want to be involved with something they can celebrate. The cause itself is not something to celebrate because people are dying every 90 seconds due to lack of water or sanitation while we are in our plush seats.

“That is simply not acceptable. But we reconcile it with the show that makes people question the situation on the really important basis of how they can help solve it. The show fulfils the mission. Laetitia and Nicky had the vision to introduce classical ballet into their production, so we have incorporated some of the dancers with Nevada Ballet Theatre.

“Cirque has a great partnership with Nevada Ballet from nine years ago with ‘Choreographers Showcase,’ which this month is Nov. 13, 19 and 20 at ‘Mystere’ Theater. This is the first time we have the local community involved in our production: Nevada Ballet is part of our family.

“The first year when I did it, there were 230 people. That was crazy. We had trucks outside, we were using hallways, corridors and banquet rooms for makeup. This year we are at 60 onstage performers. I would say half are from active Cirque shows here, and the other half are guest artists, a mix of former Cirque stars, new Cirque stars and ballet dancers.

“Many of the guest artists were with Cirque previously or on tour elsewhere, but we know of them all. We’ll add A-list talent and singers as we get closer. There’s also a creative team of 30, all the designers, lighting designers, sound designer, assistants, and out of them 25 are currently working with Cirque du Soleil, so most of the creative team is from here, too.

“When we have a meeting, it fills our entire conference room. The communication is all about setting goals. We already have a beautiful storyboard and a mood board that takes us through, picture by picture, scene by scene, tableau by tableau. The rigging team knows what they have to do and how to set up.

“As tickets go on sale and rehearsals start, the paint comes out now, and we make our masterpiece.”

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