Cirque du Soleil is ready to go Hollywood in 2011 at the Kodak Theatre
As we reported in Tuesday's Calendar section, Cirque du Soleil is bringing more of its big-top antics to Las Vegas this week with the opening of its latest dancing, trampolining extravaganza, "Viva Elvis." The homage to the king of rock 'n' roll is christening the brand-new 2,000-seat theater at the Aria Casino and Resort in Sin City's massive new CityCenter complex.
(For more on CityCenter's big gamble to bring back Vegas' pre-recession swagger, read Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne's take.)
Now the Montreal-based Cirque is looking ahead to one of its next opening nights, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland in 2011.
In an interview last week in Las Vegas, Gilles Ste-Croix, Cirque's senior vice president of creative content and new projects development, and Stéphane Mongeau, executive producer of "Viva Elvis," confirmed that Cirque is on track to bring a $100-million Hollywood-themed show to the 3,400-seat theater that hosts the annual Oscars ceremony.
"It's coming along," Ste-Croix said in Québecois-accented English. "Right now, they will transform the theater because it's a theater for the Oscar, but we want to have the possibility of [installing a] lift and all that, to have scenery change, new rigging points and all that. So they have to transform the theater."
Ste-Croix suggested that Cirque also will reconfigure the seating arrangement of the vast Kodak space to make it feel a bit more intimate. Although Cirque's new Hollywood production will be performed year-round, for something on the order of 368 shows annually, it likely won't be able to fill a 3,400-seat house for that many performances. After all, as tourist meccas go, Hollywood isn't quite on the order of Las Vegas.
"Probably the top balcony we won't use," Ste-Croix said, adding that Cirque figured on a regular audience not of 3,000 but rather about 2,000.
As for the new show's Hollywood theme, Ste-Croix said, "We cannot avoid this approach, to go to the movie."
"But it has nothing to do with all the blockbuster movies that happen," he added. "It's more about cinema as a tool and cinema as how-it-came, where-it-come-from. You know, cinema originally was a magic trick. And that's all it was. And then it evolved into vaudeville ... and it became little [snippets] that they were representing in black and white with no sound. And then it evolved [into] telling story, when sound came about. And so that's a very interesting thing to go into with acrobatics and with dance and music. So we're having a good time."
Cirque expects the show to open sometime after the 2011 Academy Awards.
"The thing is that we have to think of a show that we can unload," Ste-Croix said. "It's their theater, so we have to take out the stuff, put it back. But I know that they will use the lift we're putting in!"
-- Reed Johnson
Photo: The Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times