The Circus Is Coming To Town
Cirque du Soleil is one of the biggest live entertainment properties in the world. They dominate the Las Vegas market with eight different shows running at the same time and have ridiculously successful tours everywhere they run . . . except New York. That is one market that this entertainment behemoth cannot crack. But, with any luck, this year might be the year that the circus finally comes to town!
It would be common sense for Cirque du Soleil to try and crack the New York market. Cirque du Soleil is one of the most popular live entertainment properties and New York is considered the home of live entertainment. So surely these two would be a marriage made in heaven. But these two have had a chequered past together with the circus company struggling to get any footholds in the incredibly competitive theatre market.
But they are trying again!
Cirque du Soleil is coming to Broadway with a new show Paramour next year. It will take over the second largest theatre, the Lyric Theatre, and feature a cast of 38 theatrical performers and acrobats. This time with a bit of a difference . . .
The last production which was mounted in this theatrical capital was Banana Schpeel. A show which started in Chicago in 2009 and toured through New York before closing rather soon after in 2010. There were a number of mistakes with this production which led to its early closing. Firstly, it chose the Beacon Theatre which is generally the home of big rock shows and solo artists . . . and over 20 blocks from the theatre district. Secondly, it brought an existing show to the New York stage.
That is a hard sell to most New York locals and tourists. Tourists come with the intention to see a show in the infamous Times Square. So to encourage them to head well out of the famous district and ignore many other popular entertainment properties such as Mamma Mia! and Wicked is tough. But you can’t really win on the local side either. New York audiences are notoriously tough and are used to an incredibly high standard of theatre. And circus entertainment trying to pass itself off as theatre isn’t going to gain good word of mouth traction.
Paramour is different. This show has been specifically created for New York audiences. It contains the spectacle tourists are looking for and has been written with a theatrical narrative that will hopefully appeal to the local audiences. A theatrical and circus fusion! (Plus, it is actually in the theatre district this time!).
Audiences are ready for these theatrical fusions as shown by the popularity of the circus-themed Pippin over the last few years. And now that they have a better understanding of their competition, this theatrical designed Cirque du Soleil show should have a much better chance to stand out against the tough crowd.
It will be a big circus themed year for the theatre capital next year with the introduction of Paramour and another Cirque du Soleil collaboration with The Wiz. If this doesn’t get the circus company into the New York market, nothing will!