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Cirque du Soleil anchors a post-COVID comeback in Las Vegas

Cirque du Soleil is anticipated to announce Wednesday that it’s going to relaunch its two longest-running reside exhibits in Las Vegas, “Mystère” and “O,” in time for the July Fourth weekend, signaling the corporate’s return to its largest and most profitable market and its first steps again onto the world stage because the COVID-19 pandemic hit greater than a 12 months in the past.

“I believe our opening turns into the image that leisure is again,” stated Cirque Chief Govt Daniel Lamarre. “We’re intertwined. We’re Vegas, and Vegas is Cirque du Soleil.”

“Mystère,” Cirque’s oldest present in Las Vegas, will resume performances at Treasure Island on June 28, and “O” will return to the Bellagio on July 1. Blue Man Group, which Cirque acquired in 2017, is scheduled to return to Luxor on June 24.

Cirque’s transfer comes on the heels of an announcement by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak that leisure venues will likely be allowed to open at 100% capability by June 1. Starting Could 1, counties will assume authority in overseeing coronavirus mitigation measures, and on Tuesday, Clark County (of which Vegas is a component) authorised plans to function at 80% capability with three toes of social distance. As soon as 60% of eligible residents 16 and older have been vaccinated, occasions can proceed with no social distancing, supplied the speed of constructive coronavirus checks stays under 5%. Masks necessities will stay in place.

Lamarre stated the Cirque exhibits would function at full capability, with out social distancing. Cirque exhibits want solely 40% capability to interrupt even, Lamarre stated, however they’re aiming for 100%. “O” has an viewers capability of 1,800, and “Mystère” seats 1,616. Blue Man Group accommodates 830.

The remaining three Cirque exhibits in Vegas — “The Beatles Love,” “Michael Jackson One” and “Kà” — will open later within the 12 months, relying on how ticket gross sales go for the primary two exhibits. Every manufacturing requires about two months of rehearsal, Lamarre stated, with the casts of “Mystère” and “O” anticipated to return as quickly as Monday.

Cirque introduced in November that it was completely closing its sixth Las Vegas present, the adult-themed “Zumanity,” after a 17-year run at New York New York Lodge & On line casino. That present’s ultimate efficiency was on March 14, 2020, a day earlier than Cirque exhibits worldwide have been shut down due to the pandemic.

Cirque’s “O” is one in all two exhibits that may anchor the corporate’s restart in Las Vegas.

(Cirque du Soleil)

The reopening of “O” and “Mystère” additionally will mark Cirque du Soleil’s return to Las Vegas beneath new possession. The Montreal-based firm filed for chapter safety in June final 12 months and laid off about 95% of its workforce, or about 3,500 staff worldwide. It emerged from chapter safety in November with new homeowners led by Catalyst Capital Group, a Canadian personal fairness funding agency. One in all Cirque’s two new board members is a former government at MGM Resorts, the place 4 of the 5 remaining Cirque exhibits are housed. (Bellagio is owned by the Blackstone Group however operated by MGM.) Cirque acquired a $375-million infusion to assist jump-start the corporate.

About 300 forged and crew members will return to work on the Vegas Strip when the three exhibits resume rehearsals, Lamarre stated.

“The excellent news is, all our forged and crew in Las Vegas reside there, so it was simpler to maintain them and keep in communication with them,” he stated, including that Cirque lined their medical insurance coverage and employees’ compensation throughout the shutdown.

Since Cirque opened Mystère in 1993 with its mixture of acrobatics, contortionists, trapeze artists and clowns, the corporate has been credited with elevating the standard of leisure in Las Vegas and serving to to redefine the playing mecca as a family-friendly trip hub.

Actors practice stunts on a blue exercise mat.

Solid members apply combating stunts throughout a 2019 behind-the-scenes press day for “R.U.N,” a Cirque du Soleil present described as a graphic novel come to life. The present, meant to attraction to a youthful viewers, closed after simply 5 months.

(David Himbert / For The Instances)

Not all of its Vegas exhibits have been as profitable. Cirque’s Elvis Presley-themed present, “Viva Elvis,” closed in 2012 after a 2½-year run at Aria Resort and On line casino. And its motorcycle-action-thriller “R.U.N,” written by Robert Rodriguez, closed on March 7, 2020, after a short, accident-prone five-month run at Luxor.

Cirque’s relaunch represents optimism that Las Vegas leisure can return to its pre-pandemic glory, however challenges stay. The variety of guests to the town was down by about 54% in February in contrast with a 12 months earlier, in line with the most recent figures from the Las Vegas Conference and Guests Authority. Lodge occupancy was down about 45% throughout that interval, and the airport passenger depend was down about 58% in contrast with the identical interval in 2020.

The numbers are starting to creep up as extra persons are vaccinated and the state opens extra totally. George Kliavkoff, president of leisure and sports activities for MGM Resorts Worldwide, stated the MGM resorts have been operating at about 90% occupancy on weekends and decrease throughout the weekdays.

Food and drinks concessions will likely be out there to Cirque du Soleil audiences. Kliavkoff stated no changes have been crucial within the theaters due to the superior air flow programs already in place within the casinos, however different security measures, comparable to paperless ticketing and heightened cleansing protocols, will likely be added.

“It’s essential, even if you’re vaccinated, that we hold some security measures,” Lamarre stated.

Southern California is the most important feeder marketplace for Las Vegas and subsequently the most important purchaser of tickets for many of the Vegas exhibits, Kliavkoff stated. “That’s been significantly the case over the past couple of months as individuals have opted extra so to drive, and as individuals have had fewer leisure choices in Southern California. They selected to return to Vegas to have fun their newfound freedom.”

Due to social distancing rules, MGM has eight exhibits open at 50% capability, together with the David Copperfield and Jabbawockeez exhibits at MGM Grand, Carrot High at Luxor and Thunder From Down Below at Excalibur. The Cirque exhibits will likely be by far the most important productions to reappear on the Strip.

“MGM Resorts is likely one of the high reside leisure firms on the planet. In 2019, we did 9,000 exhibits and bought greater than 9 million tickets,” Lamarre stated. “Our single largest associate was Cirque du Soleil. The return of ‘O’ on July 1 goes to be a bellwether for the return of Las Vegas leisure.”

Hundreds of thousands of worldwide vacationers historically go to Las Vegas yearly, however these numbers are markedly down because of the pandemic. Lamarre stated he anticipated the vast majority of ticket patrons initially could be home vacationers.

“In the event you’re a U.S. citizen, you don’t have that many locations to journey all over the world, so if you wish to entertain your self after a 12 months of confinement, the place to go is to Las Vegas,” he stated. “My perception, brief time period [is], a minimum of for a 12 months, you should have extra Americans going to Vegas than worldwide shoppers.”

A man on a unicycle holds a performer above his head using one arm.

Cirque du Soleil’s “Volta” performed at Dodger Stadium in January 2020 and, earlier than the pandemic hit, had been scheduled to open in Orange County.

(Matt Beard)

The return of touring exhibits stays sophisticated as a result of the COVID-19 scenario varies from state to state within the U.S. and from nation to nation worldwide. Previous to the pandemic, Cirque excursions reached greater than 450 cities all over the world every year.

“The U.S. market goes to be extra necessary for us, greater than usually, as a result of it’s changing into day-after-day a a lot safer market. I might assume that in 2022 I wouldn’t be shocked if we had three touring exhibits touring within the U.S. due to the truth that it’s a a lot safer nation,” he stated. “The U.Okay. can also be trying fairly good, and a few others in Europe as effectively. We’re monitoring all the opposite international locations all over the world to see what our choices are.”

Cirque introduced Wednesday that “Kooza” would open in November in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and “Luzia” will return to London’s Royal Albert Corridor in January.

In Asia, Lamarre stated, talks have begun to relaunch in Korea. “We is likely to be going to Korea by the tip of 2022, and if it’s the case, we’ll in all probability comply with up with Japan,” he stated. “Japan traditionally has at all times been an incredible nation for us. Once we tour in Japan, we tour there for about 18 months.”

Cirque can also be engaged on setting a brand new opening date for “Drawn to Life,” its collaboration with Disney that was set to open in Orlando, Fla., final 12 months. “It’s a tribute to Disney animation, and we felt honored to have the chance to do a present with the IP [intellectual property] of Disney,” Lamarre stated. “We should always be capable to open someday within the fall.”

Tickets for “O” and “Mystère” are anticipated to go on sale Wednesday. Blue Man Group tickets will go on sale starting April 29. Ticket costs will stay round pre-COVID ranges, Lamarre stated, starting from $69 to $125 for “Mystère” and $79 to $180 for “O.”

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