|Company||Cirque du Soleil|
|Date of premiere||June 29, 2011|
Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada (residential starting October 25, 2012)
|Writer and director||François Girard|
|Creation director||Line Tremblay|
|Set and props designer||Stéphane Roy|
|Costume designer||Alan Hranitelj|
|Composer and musical director||Nick Littlemore|
|Lighting designer||Alain Lortie|
|Image content designer||Raymond St-Jean|
|Sound designer||Steven Dubuc|
|Acrobatic performance designer||Florence Pot|
|Rigging and acrobatic equipment designer||Danny Zen|
|Makeup designer||Eleni Uranis|
|Guest Creator and dramatist||Serge Lamothe|
|Music guide||Elton John|
|Preceded by||Totem (2010)|
|Succeeded by||Iris (2011)|
Zarkana is a Cirque du Soleil stage production written and directed by François Girard. It began as a touring show in 2011 and was converted to a permanent show in Las Vegas in late 2012. It premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on June 29, 2011, and later toured to the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow and the Madrid Arena in Madrid.
The show has been marketed as a reinvention of the variety show, with a story about a magician in an abandoned theatre who has lost his love and his magic. As he cries and begs the gods for her return, he is plunged into a world inhabited by surreal creatures. The title Zarkana is a fusion of the words "bizarre" and "arcana", which refers to the strange aura and atmosphere of this place and its inhabitants.
Following Zarkana's successful run in Moscow, it was announced that the show would start residency at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The show replaced the Cirque du Soleil resident production Viva Elvis, which closed in August 2012 at the Aria Resort.
To fully rehearse for Zarkana, Cirque du Soleil needed to find a facility large enough to accommodate a space similar in size to that of Radio City Music Hall. Lacking enough space at the Montréal headquarters, the company looked around North America for a suitable place. They chose the Amway Arena, located in Orlando, Florida. The crew moved into the facility on February 28, 2010, and stayed for a couple of months. Cirque du Soleil paid US$2,500 ($2,594 in 2013) a day plus expenses to rent the arena; around 200 Cirque employees were eating in Orlando and staying in hotels, and around 100 Floridians worked on the project part-time, creating a "great economic boost" for the city, according to Orlando venues executive Alan Johnson.
Set and technical information
The set consists of three hand-sculpted arches which represent three of the four mutant characters. The first arch, which is also the largest, represents Kundalini, a snake woman whose world is populated by dozens of slithering snakes. It is decorated with more than 150 feet (46 m) of hand-painted resin “snakes” which started out as styrofoam sculptures that were used to create molds for the liquid resin. The second arch represents Mandragora, a plant creature whose vines have overtaken the abandoned theater; the arch is utilized as a video screen. It also has plant-like "arms" which extend to nearly 100 feet (30 m) in length. The third and final arch, decorated with technological gears and pulleys, represents both the Pickled Lady and the Mad Scientist whose experiments unwittingly created her.
Stéphane Roy drew inspiration from the Art Nouveau movement, Antoni Gaudí, Gustav Klimt, and René Lalique. Lalique's inspiration can be closely seen at the extremities of the acrobatic equipment. "Keen observers will also note that the shape of the hole through which Zark makes his first entrance reproduces the outline of Manhattan, while the moon above the stage marks the exact position of Radio City Music Hall."
The LEDs on the light wall, which measures 90 by 40 feet (27 × 12 m) contains more than three million pixels. The second arch contains an LED screen comprising 118 separate panels. The stage itself consists of a sliding platform which allows for fast equipment and prop changes.
Radio City Music Hall is a national landmark, and therefore cannot be altered in any way. Therefore the set and props all had to be created in such a way that no anchors are used for any of the equipment. Everything brought in must be self-supporting since nothing could be bolted in. This in and of itself made it more difficult for the safety and security designs of the acrobatic equipment.
Below are a few additional highlights from the set design.
- The cradle stations used in the flying trapeze rely entirely on "hanger tubes" for their rigidity. The structure of the high wire number installed on the floor of the theatre’s orchestra pit is freestanding.
- The walls on either side of the stage are covered with a representation of a patchwork of 1 foot (0.30 m) ceramic tiles, each one different and hand-painted with gold leaf on a fabric that allows for transparency and onto which images can be projected.
- The video projection in the arch utilizes infrared cameras so that the projections can interact directly with the performers' movements. This is also utilized for interaction of the fire used throughout the show, adding additional special effects in the projects.
- The Kabuki-style rope curtain is 60 by 33 feet (18 × 10 m).
- The two Eagle’s-head bandstands are 28 feet (8.5 m) tall and weigh more than 9,000 pounds (4,100 kg) each.
- Zark: He is the principal character, a magician who has lost confidence in himself and his powers, initially played by the Canadian singer Garou, now played by Paul Bisson from Montreal.
- Lia: Zark's former assistant and dream girl. She is played by Canadian singer Cassiopée.
- Mutant Ladies: They are four different women who try to seduce Zark.
- Pickled Lady: She is the result of one of the Mad Scientist's experiments.
- Mandragora: She is an incarnation of the ivy that has grown in the theatre.
- Kundalini: She is a snake woman.
- Tarantula: She is a spider woman.
- Movers (White Clowns): Ti-Boss (Evelyne LaMontagne), Chameleon Convict (Elijah Brown), The Ballerina (Daniella Rabello), Rag Doll, Mardi Gras (Jason Nious), Sleepy Clown, The Apprentice, Porter, Mad Scientist (Michael Duffy), Chinese Cook, Preacher, Dame Plume, The Bride.
- The primary clowns include Hocus and Pocus.
- Jovians: Extraterrestrial creatures from the planet Jovia.
- Oracle: Communicates with the past and future. The Oracle performs the sand painting act.
A talented group of artists and acrobats perform the acts which comprise Zarkana.
- Juggling: A performer juggles balls in the air on against varying surfaces to create sounds and also tap dances.
- Ladder duo: A duo performs balancing maneuvers on ladders.
- Rope duet: A duet performs aerial ropes.
- (Included only in the first Radio City Music Hall run).
- Flag Maniputation: A group of performers juggle and toss around flags.
- Russian bar: Two men propel an acrobatic flyer into the air with a long flexible bar
- Highwire: Two men perform a daring high wire act
- Cyr wheels and Cerceaux: Seven artists perform in cyr wheels while more perform tricks in aerial hoops.
- Sand painting: An artist uses a light table to tell a story through drawn images in the sand
- Grand Violant: Twelve acrobats perform trapeze, in what is a Cirque first of using three trapezes side-by-side.
- Wheel of death: Two men perform death defying feats in a giant spinning "Wheel of Death"
- Handbalancing: An artist performs handbalancing skills on a slippery surface.
- Banquine: Fifteen artists perform banquine which involves human pyramids and aerial crossovers.
Croatian designer Alan Hranitelj created the costumes for Zarkana. In addition to working closely with the artists to better understand their personalities and design costumes that would work well for them, he found it to be somewhat of a paradox to use so much white in the color palette taking into consideration the darkness of the show. In order to incorporate the white color of the white clowns with the rest of the show's color spectrum, the team incorporated hints of color into the clown's costumes which are distinctly related to one of the acts. The acts of the show, in fact, have each been assigned their own specific color helping solidify the look throughout the show.
Hranitelj took inspiration from the 1920s, 1930s, and Art Deco movement to create the 250 costumes in Zarkana. Floral motifs (especially roses, which can be seen on Zark's top hat and cape) are utilized throughout the show to reflect the love and passion of the show's principal characters. The rose is utilized for Lia and Zark and therefore red and pink are heavily used in their costumes. As red is a symbol of Lia and Zark's love, red was also utilized in the costumes for the Banquine act, as this act finally unifies the two lovers. The fabrics chosen for the show included polyester and neoprene. Sublimation was used on the fabrics to create the colors and prints designed for the show.
Some of the highlights of the costume collection include these below.
- Kundalini's costume is fireproof because she performs close to fire-eaters.
- The Oracle's costume was influenced by Russian/French deisgner Etré.
- "The Jovians were originally inspired by a fictitious tribe that lived off the bounty of the sea. When they went fishing, they wore costumes that made them look like fish to fool their prey. The Jovians’ costumes are made of double-laminated Lycra and decorated with bubbles that represent the foam excreted by the fish."
- The lead singer, who plays three of the four mutants, was scanned for precise measurements in order to produce a cast of her body. This was to reduce the time needed to have her in person for costume fittings.
Accidents and incidents
On November 1, 2013, a male acrobat while performing an act known as the "Wheel of Death", slipped and fell off the wheel during a performance. The performance was stopped and the artist was taken by ambulance to University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in stable condition.
Zarkana began as a seasonal touring show, playing at Radio City Music Hall in New York, the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, and the Madrid Arena in Madrid. The show began previews on June 9, 2011, at Radio City Music Hall and premiered on June 29, 2011. In late 2012, the show was converted from a touring production into a permanent resident show at the Aria Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
The following colorboxes indicate the region of each performance:
Europe North America
Preview: New York City, NY - From 9 Jun 2011 to 26 Jun 2011
Moscow, RU - From 4 Feb 2012 to 8 Apr 2012
- "A Marvelous Exploration of the Truly Bizarre at Radio City Music Hall written and directed by François Girard". Cirque du Soleil (Press Release). 2010-11-09. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
- "Zarkana - Cirque du SOleil's Surreal Acrobatic Spectacle written and directed by François Girard". Cirque du Soleil (Press Release). 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2011-06-04.
- "Cirque du Soleil to Premiere a Major New Spectacle at Radio City Music Hall in Summer 2011". Cirque du Soleil (Press Release). 2010-09-14. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
- "Cirque du Soleil and Kremlin Palace: A Brand New Show in Moscow". Cirque du Soleil (Press Release). 2011-02-21. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
- "Zarkana in Spain". Broadway World. Retrieved 2012-MAR-07.
- "Acrobatic Spectable Zarkana by CIrque du Soleil to Establish Residency at Aria Resort & Casino Following Successful Worldwide Run. Show to Find Permanent Home in Las Vegas Starting October 2012". 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "Cirque du Soleil rehearsing inside old Amway Arena". Orlando Theater Blog. 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
- "Zarkana Set and Video Content" (PDF). Retrieved July 30, 2011.
- "Zarkana, Act and Characters" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil (Press Materials). Retrieved July 22, 2011.
- Cirque du Soleil (2011). Zarkana Souvenir Program. UPC 4 00005 12765 6.
- "Garou Incarnera Zark dans le Nouveau Spectacle Zarkana du Cirque du Soleil qui Prendra L'affice au Radio City Music Hall à New York". Cirque du Soleil (Press Release). 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2011-02-22.
- "Alan Hranitelj, Biography". Cirque du Soleil (Press Release). Retrieved July 23, 2011.
- "Zarkana - Costumes". Cirque du Soleil (Press Material). Retrieved July 23, 2011.
- "Cirque du Soleil performer falls in 'Wheel of Death' during Las Vegas show". NBC News. Retrieved 2 November 2013.