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Cirque du Soleil expands empire with The Works

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February 07, 2019 By John Katsilometes

Having closed out a long partnership with a star magician in October, Cirque du Soleil is now saying the art form — not the artist — is the star.

The Strip’s predominant production company has acquired The Works Entertainment, which tours “The Illusionists” magic production among its stage shows. Cirque, of course, ended its partnership with Criss Angelat Luxor in October after a decade-long run.

Among “The Illusionists” productions was its holiday show that ran on Broadway at Marquis Theatre in November and December. “America’s Got Talent” winner Shin Lim, the incoming Mirage headliner who has also ascended to the finals of “AGT: The Champions,” was cast in that production. So was Chloe Crawford, a featured performer in Angel’s “Mindfreak Live” lineup at Luxor.

The Works is also the production company behind “The Naked Magicians,” opening next Wednesday at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club at MGM Grand, and it brought the dazzling but soft-selling “Circus 1903” to Paris Theater in 2017.

Cirque President Daniel Lamarre says the company has no plans to develop a new magic production on the Strip in this new partnership. Instead, the company is focused on the new extreme-sports show at Luxor replacing “Mindfreak Live.”

“That show is our priority now,” Lamarre said in a phone chat Wednesday morning. “My one-liner about that show is it’s the first live-action thriller by Cirque du Soleil. We’re developing something for the younger crowd, different from anything we have done in the past.”

Plans are for the production to be announced by the end of March, with previews opening in October. As to reports that the show will be called “Jump,” Lamarre said that title was being used “in-house,” but the new show would have a different name.

“People will be totally excited when they see the final concept,” he added.

Over the past couple of years, Cirque has expanded its scale in Las Vegas and beyond. The company acquired Blue Man Group (still headlining on the Strip at Luxor) in 2017, and VStar Entertainment Group (known for such family friendly fare as “Sesame Street Live” and “Barney & Friends” touring shows) in 2018. A few years ago, Cirque officials also showed interest in Spiegelworld, creators of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace and “Opium” at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, but no agreement ever materialized.

By purchasing The Works, Lamarre told The New York Times in an earlier interview, “The play for us is magic. Like us, they have no stars. The show is the star, and they’re constantly using different magicians. The fact that they’re not focused on stars gives you scalability.”

No financial figure was attached to Wednesday’s announcement, but Lamarre said the cost was about $40 million.

Simon Painter, The Works creative producer and co-founder, said his company was eager to expand under Cirque’s worldwide umbrella.

“As we were reflecting on our company’s future, we were looking for the next big step to fulfill our wildest dreams,” Painter said in a statement. “Joining the team of the company that completely revolutionized circus arts and is now leading the live entertainment industry is a true honor for us. Cirque du Soleil’s global touring expertise as well as large-scale production insights will undeniably fuel our desired future growth in addition to giving us access to new creative resources that we could ever wish for.”


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