Cirque du Soleil Artistic Director
The residents of St. Paul, Minnesota already know about KOOZA, one of the traveling Cirque du Soleil shows as it’s playing there currently. In a few weeks, however, they’ll be packing up their gear and tent, and packing it all into a staggering 50 semi-trailers and driving to Denver. It’ll be set up again on the grounds of the Pepsi Center for six weeks of performances for Coloradoans. When they’re done here, the next stop is Santa Monica, California.
As part of the advance publicity for the show, I was given an opportunity to have a chat with Luc Tremblay, the Artistic Director of KOOZA. Though not a performer, Luc is one of the creative geniuses behind the KOOZA show, previously having been involved with La Nouba (based in Orlando, Florida) and Delirium, another of the Cirque traveling shows.
I should disclose that I am a big fan of the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil troop and find their shows both trippy and thrilling. I’ve written about the group and its shows before and even had a behind-the-scenes tour of the Vegas production “O”. Here’s some of what I’ve published about the troop:
• Review: Cirque du Soleil: The Beatles LOVE
• Review: Cirque du Soleil “O”
• Cirque du Soleil “O” — Behind the Scenes
If you’re thinking they’re just a group of casual street performers, you’ve never been to a Cirque show. Their shows are amazing and quite technologically sophisticated. KOOZA will have 53 performers under its blue and yellow Grand Chapiteau tent, with 15 technicians running everything. In total, KOOZA has a traveling crew of 125 people and the 175 costumes and total of over 1000 props.
If you’ve been to the Cirque performances in Las Vegas or elsewhere, you’ve seen them on a multi-million-dollar stage that was built specifically for that show. The set up alone makes them one of the best Las Vegas shows around.
When they’re on the road, however, it’s not possible to rig a million dollar stage, so the traveling shows are simpler and are closer to what Luc explains are “the very roots of Cirque: we started with tent-based shows and have only been doing traveling shows in arenas since 2006.” KOOZA will be performed in a tent set up in the parking lot at the Pepsi Center, not within the Center itself.
Nonetheless, with a production this complex, it’s still quite a feat. Indeed, it cost about $15 million dollars to create KOOZA, one reason why the tickets are rather expensive. In fact, adult ticket prices range from $60-$130 (with a VIP ticket costing $215 per person). You’ll have six weeks (of eight performances/week) to see the show starting on August 20th, before they break down the tent, disassemble everything, and drive to California for the next set of performances.
KOOZA is built around two traditional circus arts: acrobatics and clowning. Unlike “O” and many of the other Cirque clowns, however, Luc says that the clowns in Kooza are “more American than European” which means that there’ll be more slapstick. (indeed, Tremblay’s next show with Cirque will be an as-yet-unnamed vaudeville show, which should be a perfect match for the dramatic stylings of the troop’s designers).
“KOOZA is about human connection and the world of duality, good and bad,” says the show’s writer, David Shiner. “The tone is fun and funny, light and open. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s very much about ideas too.”
The show is presented in ten acts, ranging from balancing on chairs to juggling to trapeze, unicycle and the “wheel of death”, which is described thusly: “KOOZA’s 1600-pound Wheel of Death rotates at heart-stopping speeds, powered only by the two artists who leap and counter-rotate in a death-defying display of fearless acrobatics and astonishing teamwork.”
If it’s anything like the previous Cirque du Soleil shows I’ve seen, I am completely confident that KOOZA will indeed be a heart-stopping, astonishing, thrilling, and ultimately delightful show. If you’re near Denver, book your tickets now because it’s going to be a not-to-miss performance!
(and if you can’t make it, you might well consider buying a DVD of KOOZA from the Cirque boutique. It’s only $19)