It’s one of theater’s greatest ironies: Talented performers train for a lifetime to score a coveted role … only to find themselves doing the same act over and over again. But since 2013, Cirque du Soleil has offered a fresh creative outlet to its cast and crew: Design and perform in an annual one-off show that benefits the One Drop Foundation. Over the course of seven performances, the event has raised $35 million dollars to help provide vulnerable communities with access to clean water.
This year’s performance is directed by the team that helped re-imagine Mystère and The Beatles Love—André Kasten and Leah Moyer. Think of One Night for One Drop as an all-star variety show. There will be performances by Blue Man Group, three compositions by Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer and a variety of cascading delights.
Kasten and Moyer created a loose theme around the evening’s performance, telling the story of an “Everyman” going on a journey of enlightenment. “We wanted to bridge the gap between the audience and the people going through this, to speak about relevant topics around us so they can relate to humanity,” Kasten says.
The Everyman will witness “natural beauty, humanity, love and loss, technology and destruction [until] it starts to feel overwhelming for him.” The Everyman encounters a 7-year-old girl, who represents One Drop, and she helps him realize that it all starts with one drop of kindness, according to the directors’ vision. Of course, this narrative is staged through the lens of Cirque du Soleil, so expect it to be more abstract than literal.
Michael Duffy, who played the lead mad scientist role in Zarkana, will play Everyman. “To be in this theater is just an honor,” Duff says. To embody Everyman, Duffy will use physical acting, dance and more. “My favorite zone to be in is when utilizing as many different talents as possible.”
Another highlight: Choreographer Alexander Ekman will brings his take on Swan Lake, which he staged in Norway, to the O Theater stage. At a recent rehearsal, Ekman was enchanted by the theater’s moving stage, which converts seamlessly from swimming pool to shallows to dry land. “I love water,” says Ekman, who was born in Stockholm, Sweden. He says that rhythm and water are two major sources of inspiration. He chatted as his dancers moved and splashed in unison. Their actions were somehow both liquid and rhythmic. “It’s so fun to be here. It’s so cool to have this stage. It makes me want to make another water piece.”
Ekman especially loves the opportunity to share his passion for a good cause. “When you work with charity [there is] a beautiful mindset that comes with it. Everyone is working for free. It’s very beautiful.”
One Night for One Drop March 8, 7:30 p.m. $125-$325. Bellagio's O Theater, onenight.onedrop.org.