Los Angeles: The city that’s always culture-forward. Lose a wax museum, gain a circus.
It’s been announced that the Kodak Theater in Hollywood will become home to a permanent Cirque du Soleil show that will feature a movie industry theme. Voila, it’s Cirque du LA.
Okay, zero-out your stopwatch. Now everybody grab a pencil, go off to a corner, and write 10 jokes about this in the next two minutes. And… go! Here comes the first one: At one point in the show, 12 clowns get out of a tiny white Ford Bronco and scream, “Not Guilty!” Hang on… there’s a mother-daughter magic team, and they miraculously switch faces. Wait a minute… the show is a success and everybody in the AUDIENCE takes credit for it.
The Kodak Theater opened in 2001 and cost somebody $94 million. The venue has had a rough time booking shows other than the once-a-year Academy Awards. The move to yield the building to Cirque du Soleil as a permanent home was widely heralded by the tourist-milking community. Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the live concert industry trade publication “Pollstar,” called the move “brilliant, especially with a Hollywood theme.”
Sean Kuba, a principal in CIM Group which owns the Kodak, assured all that the Cirque show will be a tourist attraction like Universal Studios or Disneyland rather than a Broadway-style experience. Although, if you’ve been to Wicked, you might argue whether there’s any serious difference between contemporary Broadway musicals and a log flume ride at Six Flags.
And rest assured you’ll get soaked at the Hollywood Cirque: Tickets are expected to run between $80 and $90, with $120 cited as common for Las Vegas shows. Since a family of four will be able to attend for as little $320, that means Los Angeles will be hanging another “Please, no working class people” sign over one more doorway.
But so what? What matters is the excitement, the anticipation, the layers of white pancake and metaphor of another Cirque du Soleil show with a theme. And this one’s not bothering to explore anything as feeble as humanity or sexuality or water. It’s digging into the mother lode: Hollywood, The Dream Factory.
Hollywood interpreted by clowns might seem redundant to you, but I’ve already been moving a few ideas around, and I have some notions for the new production that are bound to put an 80- to 120-dollar smile on the child in all of us… all of us who can spend hundreds of dollars on three hours of mimes fighting shredded paper windstorms with a busted umbrella.
Most Cirque shows feature two beefy men, usually brothers from Europe, who take turns holding each other over their heads. Is there any real harm in costuming these guys as an agent and his assistant? During the act, the one man is displaced as the other gets stronger and stronger. During the entire performance, both men continue to take phone calls.
High Wire Thrills
We’ve seen trained but largely unknown professionals walk a high wire without a net. What this show will need is stars! Imagine Tom Cruise walking a wire and balancing his past with his present. After several jittery trips from one end to the other, Cruise is fired out of a cannon… right out of the big tent. The beauty of this is that it could be a different star every night!
Silent but Deadly
Even if the writer’s strike is over in a few years, Cirque du Soleil will want to tell the story of Hollywood in its traditionally non-verbal presentation style. Studying “action” films, which are better without their dialogue, should help. But that means the big finale might involve dangerous explosions and the destruction of 20 or 30 automobiles. That’s not as subtle as Popo the Vagabond juggling oranges, but it gives Cirque something new: The right to advertise, “You’ll be blown away!”
Work the Crowd
The Hollywood show should feature Cirque du Soleil’s longtime tradition of playing with the customers before the show. Imagine two clowns circling the entire audience with a red velvet rope and then not admitting any old or unattractive people to the show. Or a clown comically ladles out paper cups of water… and charges $8 for them! Then, in the conceptual gag of all time, the show itself is not as good as the hype.