Monday, October 03, 2011

Cirque du Soleil's "Iris" Wows L.A. Critics ... Are They for Real?

Los Angeles Times photo. Photographer unidentified.

It must be a glorious day for Cirque du Soleil down in tinsel town. And deja vu all over again. This is the place where the Montreal Monster conquered the world stage back in 1987 when it gambled all its kitty on a date in Japantown, wowed the entire city and soon after the world, and the rest is phenomenal history.

Twenty four years ago. Then, Cirque came bearing a simple though brilliantly inventive show under a little tent.

Now, 24 seasons later, it has returned full circle, back to the city of it's world birth, bearing a dazzling display of how it has reached into other venues and, finally, onto the stage.

I have felt all along that, in order for this gig to be big and last, it would have to be Cirque Grade A+ Nothing less. And maybe it is. But, even then ...

I am not quite ready to fully believe all of the raves I've read, for three reasons:

1. L.A. shares a special history with Cirque du Soleil, as noted above.

2. L.A. desperately needs a permanent anchor amusement to occupy and make more vital the Kodak Theatre, where previous tenants have failed.

3. The L.A. critics can come off on occasion as cheerleaders, either fooled by what they are watching or lacking in what I'd call New York critical independence. Time and time again, I've observed them to embrace a show, almost unanimously, that just was not that good. Example: The curiously rewritten Flower Drum Song, which premiered in L.A. prior to its "Broadway revival." L.A. reviewers issued virtual raves. Once FDS hit the New York boards, Gotham critics blasted it in a thousand different ways. It flopped within months.

Which is not to say that the critics are wrong on Iris. But I do wonder if some of their enthusiasm is driven by a burning desire, city wide, for the blockbuster draw that can bring much-needed live-entertainment luster to Hollywood and Hyland, where tourists flock to have their photos taken, gaze down upon the stars, buy a few souvenirs and quickly move on. Will Iris convince them to spend another night and a few hundred more dollars?

As one local said to a reporter, "They have no competition!"

For me, this will be a fascinating story to watch. By one account, if they can fill up 65% of the Kodak Theatre seats on average, they can turn some kind of a profit. Show is slated for a 10-year run. No where else in tinseltown do shows last even for a year.

For the moment, there is rare euphoria in the air. This is the town that put Cirque du Soleil on the map, make no mistake, and this is the town that may put them higher on the map. If Iris is as great as the reviews are saying, I can imagine watching it, maybe when I am in a wheel chair, when the ticket prices come back down to earth.

But, I doubt that. I can see discounts in a year or two. Blockbusters rise and fall here as fast as flats on a back lot.


Harry Kingston said...

Being a die hard circus fans that I am I agree with Harold Ronk on the four elements that make up a circus.
I remember reading a comment that Soleil said that circuses are no competition to them but legitmite theather is.
To me Cirque is not a circus at all, right or wrong that is my opinion of them.
They are coming here in town Thanksgiving weekend for 5 days.
The adds have already started months ago and the advance juggler and so called clown already has been on tv.
Tickets start at $38 up and i predict they will take a bath here as these folks are used to the free kids tickets.
They will not get my money.
Time will tell but many folks will be out of town at grandmas and shopping the black friday sales.
Harry in Texas

Showbiz David said...

Hi Harry, perhaps CDS was correct in identifying the theatre rather than the circus as their competition. In my book, one of the topics I address: IS CDS a circus?

In other words, how far can you "evolve" until you are no longer a "circus," but something else???

I am tickled the Big Apple has diversified their menagerie a little, with a rodent and pig!

Have a Top Texas day!



In 1987,I am sure that you recall that Cirque DIED in San Diego, right before they moved to LA.

LA was "make or break".

Showbiz David said...

Frank, you made heat for a moment.

I've removed my previous comment, because in checking out your assertion that CDS did poorly in San Diego "right before" they came to L.A., I find only the opposite in routing: they appeared first in L.A., then onto Santa Monica and San Diego.

Am I still wrong?



Read Wikipedia's history of Cirque.

If they had flopped in LA in 1987, "they would not have enough money to get the performers and equipment back to Montreal".

Any more sophisticated history of Cirque will confirm the above.

Showbiz David said...


That's correct. I am only pointing out that CDS played L.A. first before going to San Diego.