In case you missed it, Cirque du Soleil got in a fight and threw someone off the fifth floor of a hotel at Comic-Con in San Diego last month.
Cirque teamed with pop-culture site Fandom to spice up its fourth-annual party at San Diego’s Hard Rock Hotel on July 18, one of Comic-Con’s biggest bashes every year. Appropriately, it was all about R.U.N, Cirque’s upcoming Las Vegas action spectacular opening October 24 at Luxor, with an energetic performance captivating a crowd already abuzz with the latest movie, TV, superhero, sci-fi and geek culture news. Avengers costar Cobie Smulders, Rick and Morty voice Spencer Grammer, Superstore actors Lauren Ash and Colton Dunn, and Krypton star Cameron Cuffe were there, too.
On a makeshift rooftop stage with frenetic video projections splashed across the hotel towers behind them, the artists of Cirque’s newest production danced, fought, dance-fought, played guitar, raced and wheelied on motorcycles, engaged in more hand-to-hand combat and even some person-versus-motorcycle combat, and gasped along with the crowd when two fighters on a fifth-story balcony traded punches before the one in the white jacket tossed the one in the gray suit over the edge. It was something like a comic book coming to life, or maybe like stepping into one of those high-powered action series announced that week by a big studio inside one of Comic-Con’s exhibition halls.
For Las Vegas, it was another quick glimpse of the look and feel of R.U.N. The message coming from the Cirque team since it was announced has been that this will be the most different Las Vegas resident show from the company so far, skipping avant-garde vibes and acrobatics in favor of cinematic action and Hollywood stunt work.
If you check the Fandom party footage (and maybe sleuth out some video clips popping up on social media that show performers training and rehearsing at Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal and, more recently, in the Luxor’s theater), it’s easy to see the show’s direction is not from the usual Cirque playbook. R.U.N promises to be the least circus- influenced show the company has ever created, and it’s a fascinating evolution.
In November, KÁ at MGM Grand will turn 15, and that show could certainly be considered an action thriller. Its moving stages and precisely choreographed battle scenes have been hailed as groundbreaking theatrical innovations. The fighting in KÁ has elements of martial arts and dance, and when its warrior-artists clash, it’s almost as if an incredibly detailed painting has been brought to life. It’s epic fantasy.
By contrast, R.U.N's fight scenes appear to be built on gritty realism, the kind of close-up physical encounters that could be filmed and end up looking like the real thing on camera. The action will most likely come fast and hard, so much so that the audience might miss something. The show is designing motorcycle stunts like you’d see at extreme sports competitions in large arenas that will have to fit onstage at Luxor’s 1,500-seat theater. One blast on the throttle and those bikes could fly somewhere they’re not supposed to go, and maybe that’s the right way to approach R.U.N. Cirque is trying to fit a greater dose of energy—and a more powerful punch—into a new Vegas version.