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Cirque du Soleil announces return to the stage

Cirque do Soleil Entertainment Group has announced the reopening of four of its most popular shows, which have been closed for more than a year due to restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic.

Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil, the world’s largest producer of circus and other touring entertainment events, was one of the first casualties of the coronavirus, filing for bankruptcy last June after having already laid off thousands of staff. It emerged from bankruptcy protection in November after striking an agreement with creditors.

Two resident shows, O at the Bellagio and Mystère at Treasure Island, will reopen in Las Vegas this summer (1 July and 28 June, respectively), with the affiliated Blue Man Group show also returning to the Luxor Hotel from 24 June. Tickets for all Las Vegas shows are on sale now.

“I just can’t wait to see the lights go back on”

Two Cirque-produced touring events will also reopen: Kooza will return to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic from November, with Luzia opening at the Royal Albert Hall in London in January 2022.

Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, says: “This is the moment we have all been waiting for. Almost 400 days have passed since we had to take a temporary hiatus, and we have been anxiously awaiting our return to the stage.

“I am so proud of the resilience of our artists and employees who persevered during the most challenging times with stages dark around the world for so long. I just can’t wait to see the lights go back on.”

“This is only the beginning,” he adds. “We look forward to sharing more exciting news in the coming weeks.”

 


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Cirque du Soleil Entertainment expands family offering

In a bid to further expand its audience base to even the youngest of viewers, global entertainment group Cirque du Soleil Entertainment has acquired VStar Entertainment Group, best known for its popular children- and family-oriented shows. The deal, announced last Thursday (5 July), will see the Minnesota-based company, as well as their Florida-based circus arts subsidiary Cirque Dreams, added to Cirque du Soleil’s growing portfolio.

VStar Entertainment Group has operated for close to four decades, with over 39,000 performances in more than 40 countries to its name. It has largely made its name through its family-oriented productions, showcasing popular children’s brands from Nickelodeon and Spin Master with huge success over the years. Of its most popular shows, PAW Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue stands a clear winner. In 2017 alone, the show toured 250 cities in 18 countries, grossing an average of $394,877.

The move is hoped to be mutually beneficial for all those involved. President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment, Daniel Lamarre, comments: “VStar Entertainment Group has a proven track record and recognised expertise in small theatrical production, which complements Cirque du Soleil’s expertise in large-scale production and global touring.

“We continue to look for ways to expand and diversify our portfolio with new forms of entertainment and new brands”

“We firmly believe the knowledge transfer will help us develop our own capabilities in this type of entertainment and therefore, contribute to growing our footprint in the live entertainment production industry.”

This knowledge transfer will also be welcomed by Cirque Dreams, VStar’s subsidiary circus arts division. Founded by Broadway director Neil Goldberg, Cirque Dreams produces and operates tours and shows in theatres and tourist venues. On the acquisition, Goldberg says: “I have always admired the creative forces behind Cirque du Soleil and could not wish for a better partner to continue developing Cirque Dreams.”

Speaking further about this new direction for Cirque du Soleil Entertainment, Lamarre explained that whilst circus arts will always remain at the heart of the outfit, expanding into new horizons is a crucial part of the company’s future. He says: “We continue to look for ways to expand and diversify our portfolio with new forms of entertainment and new brands, reaching new audiences and expanding our own creative and production capabilities.”

 


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Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

The 146-year-old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will close forever in May after battling with a decline in attendance and high operating costs, amongst other factors.

The event was named in Pollstar’s top 100 tours of Q1 2016, taking ninth place with 252,571 tickets sold. However, that isn’t enough to sustain the legendary circus. Due also to changing public tastes and prolonged conflict with animal rights groups, the show’s management have decided to close for good.

The company broke the news to circus employees Saturday night after shows in Orlando and Miami. “There isn’t any one thing,” said Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”

“Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.”

A message from Feld online reads: “Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.”

Ringling has been targeted by activists who say forcing animals to perform is cruel and unnecessary. In May of 2016, after a long and costly legal battle, the company removed the elephants from the shows and sent the animals to live on a conservation farm in Central Florida.

Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. Major stops include Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Brooklyn. The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7 and in Uniondale, New York, at the Nassau County Coliseum on May 21.

The circus, with its exotic animals, flashy costumes and death-defying acrobats, has been a staple of entertainment in the United States since the mid-1800s. Phineas Taylor Barnum made a traveling spectacle of animals and human oddities popular, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home base in Wisconsin. Eventually, they merged the Feld family bought the Ringling circus in 1967.

Some 500 people perform and work on both touring shows. A handful will be placed in positions with the company’s other, profitable shows — it owns Monster Jam, Disney on Ice and Marvel Live, amongst others. Juliette Feld said the company will help those who aren’t placed elsewhere with job placement and resumes, as well as housing relocation.


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