Carson and Barnes Circus, in the 1960s

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Neon Flowers in a Desert: Circus du Soleil Gives Away Whole Chunks of its Vegas Shows on PBS ...

Late breaking! Kodak, which has held naming rights to the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, currently home to Cirque's Iris show, has filed for bankruptcy. The theatre will use a different name for the Oscar telecast tonight, and Kodak reportedly wants out of its contract with the city, for which it pays $4 million a year for the theatre on Hollywood and Highland to bear its name. How this setback will affect the CDS run is yet to be known. The run was originally slated to be open-ended, and projected to last for 10 years. The curiously crass intersection, where tourists pass through, rarely staying very long, is once again plagued by failing imagery. I have no idea what sort of business Cirque has been doing at the "Kodak."


TV Review: Flowers in the Desert


Bottom Line: It made me wonder, who is more desperate for patronage and loot, PBS or CDS?

This totally caught me off guard, and was I surprised. CDS allowing much more than a midway tease on Pledge Break Society (PBS-TV), but large sections of most of its long-running Vegas productions.

Depending on your CDS attitudes and/or particular artistic tastes, you might be left swept away, or a little dizzy, numb and dumb with a blitzing overload of special effects, flying and floating props, and endless variations on the trampoline, most of it darkly lit. At last, a show to render a typical Feld fireworks display about as simple and harmless as the kid kit of sparklers and firecrackers I'd light off at home on the Fourth of July.

Of course, company's sterling acrobatics come through in spectacular fashion in the water show, O. On the other hand, KA struck me as the least engaging; to fans of opera, it might have been the most engaging.

Since I do not move to the beat of Elvis, the stage show about him seemed OK, containing a welcome more lighthearted spirit.

The Beatles? A rather interesting concept, featuring at the center a figure I took for Sergent Pepper. But I sensed a dour deference to John Lennon, whose darker reaches possibly suited creators of Montreal. I'd have liked a lot more melodic McCartney.

Audience reactions to the various shows, revealed now and then by long-shots, seemed more muted than ecstatic. Perhaps these are the Vegas crowds who seek mindless escape amidst the neon and slots. First broadcast in late November, PBS here in the Bay Area ran it last night for at least the second time in prime time, within less than a week.

No one can deny the monumental achievements of CDS on its own terms. Program made clear the technical and artistic dominance of Cirque du Soleil. But a certain cold machine-driven perfectionism that can feel not so faceless under a tent -- on this extended PBS please-give-us-your-money platform felt a little too redundant too soon.

I'm sticking to their touring shows.

[Originally posted December 9, 2010]

1 comment:

Alan Cabal said...

Cirque du Soleil peaked with O and QUIDAM, both the work of Franco Dragone. When he left, the magic left with him.