Kismet and good living, that’s all I can figure was how I ended up being friends with Jessica Berlin, social media publicist for the wonderful Cirque du Soleil performing troop in Las Vegas, Nevada. Well, social media helped, but I have very much enjoyed the time we’ve spent together talking about the online world, performing arts, and much more.
I have a bit of a background in stage productions, I’ve done lighting and sound for small, amateur productions, and I have certainly spent time on stage as an actor and professional speaker. But the scope of Cirque performances are staggering. In fact, while I was out in Las Vegas in January 2009 for CES I was invited to not only see “O”, the water-themed Cirque show (“O” as in “eau”, French for water), but to bring two good friends along for a behind-the-scenes tour led by the charming “O” publicist Ann Paladie. Fabulous!
This blog post is my photo album of what it looks like behind the curtain, adjacent to the main stage and pool, and a glimpse of what the performers are doing between shows to unwind and relax.
Before we delve into it, however, I asked Jessica to send me a tiny snippet of the production stage notes for “O” to get a sense of just how complex the show actually is. The sheet for just one stage transition is, by itself, quite complex, as you can see by grabbing the PDF document.
Important background info for reading those stage notes is that “the show is divided into 2 automations boards. One is called the tele board (short for telepherique – the steel structure over the pool) and it runs all the aerial automations. The other is called the deck board and runs the lifts and a few other automated features.” Those are the “T” and “D” in the stage notes document.
Okay, enough. Let’s get on to the photos. I will, by the way, post a review of the show itself shortly, but this is a lot of work, pulling this together!
It says: “Please be quiet!! Watch your volume during the show, keep unnecessary chatter and noise to a minimum” and ends with the rather Orwellian “Management thanks you for your cooperation”. Indeed. And the audience does too.
This is a small part of the backstage prop set. If you look closely, you should recognize a number of these props, including the A frame of one of the divers swings, used to astonishing effect in the latter portion of the show itself. One of the riggers is in the photo too, just walking out of the gloom. He was delighted to see us wandering around, I must say!
This is the second Cirque du Soleil show that I have enjoyed in Las Vegas (the first was The Beatles: LOVE) and I am more and more impressed with the performers and the stage production. It’s quite a team and having the chance to meet and get to know some of them has proven a wonderful experience for me.
December of 2009 they’re scheduled to open an Elvis-themed show in Las Vegas and I am eager to see it when I return too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind-the-scenes tour, and if you have questions about Cirque or the “O” show, please don’t hesitate to ask them here in the comments. If I can’t get an answer, I can certainly ask someone on the Cirque team to help out.
Great article. I didn’t get a chance to see O yet, but I did see Love recently and am looking forward to more Cirque shows.
Wow Dave! What a nice comprehensive backstage look. As a veteran recording artist promoter I’ve been backstage hundreds of times, but have never seen anything near this elaborate.
Your inside look makes me really appreciate how much time, work, dedication and professional attention to detail goes into pulling off just one show. Thanks!
Thanks so much for the glimpse behind the scenes at “O”! It makes me want to hop on a plane right now and go back and see it again. What an amazing production.
that is really cool !
The show was great, but one of the things I enjoyed most about this post was that your interesting & detailed look into what goes on behind the scenes, in no way detracts from the magic of the performance – great job!
Do they let normal people get a backstage tour im going next march and i love cirque i am in theatre myself and would love to get to see the tech of the greatest show>
My son is part of the technical crew on “O” responsible for the effects in the pool, like the lifts – he does a lot of diving in there and has been trained extensively. Dave must’ve gotten pretty lucky to get this tour, because even as a mom, they wouldn’t let me back there. I guess there have been liability issues in the past. Very cool job.
Are there any tours of the costume production? I sew dance costumes and would love to see how all the fantastic costumes are created.
Sorry to say, sher, as far as I know there’s no way for the general public to get a tour. I’ve just been lucky with whom I know. 🙂