Christian Gibbons

High Stakes and High-Flying

Christian Gibbons

When I was a child, going to the circus was a family pastime. Although my family and I never watched it as much as an NFL game, we definitely got something out of it that we never got out of watching my dad’s favorite sport. There was something about going to the so-called “greatest show on Earth”—with its menagerie of death-defying tricks, spectacular animals and lovable buffoonery—that always felt special. But as I grew up more, those trips to the circus grew fewer and fewer, until eventually they ceased altogether.

Since then, I’ve often wondered what’s become of the circus industry. It felt strange when I came to Boston for college and saw so many posters for the latest show from Cirque du Soleil. But Cirque du Soleil is actually one of the biggest modern success stories in the circus industry, and it has built a global reputation on world-class performers, top-notch costumes and effects, and boundless liveliness. In fact, there’s pretty much only one thing left that the company hasn’t accomplished: making it big on Broadway.

Despite previous attempts to make a lasting impact on a New York stage, Cirque du Soleil still has something to prove. “It is a big question mark for Cirque now,” said Diane Paulus, a Broadway director who’s worked with Cirque before. “What’s next for them, and how are they going to break new ground after they broke ground so powerfully . . . [over 30] years ago?” Their most recent production, a hybrid of aerial techniques and musical theatre named Paramour, is distinguished from previous efforts by its use of dialogue, original music and a fully developed plot about a love triangle in Golden Age Hollywood.

Although Paramour hasn’t proved to be as popular with critics as its creators might have hoped since debuting in May of 2016, the show has been well-received by many Cirque fans. In addition, the company is already moving forward with at least four other shows in New York, and hopes to also bring a version of The Wiz to the Broadway stage in the near future.

It looks like the circus is here to stay, and Cirque du Soleil will continue to try to reach new heights.

Did You Know?

There really is no “I” in theater! Most Broadway theaters don’t have a row I because it’s so easy to confuse with the number 1. Some theaters exclude other rows, such as O, Q, N, U and V, for similar reasons.

Photo Credit: Thesupermat

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