Didn’t see that coming, did ya? Cirque du Soleil announced this week that its new show at the Luxor (replacing the 10-year run of Criss Angel’s Believe and Mindfreak shows, which ended last year) will be an action-packed, acrobat-free, immersive stunt-fest written by Robert Rodriguez and set in Las Vegas, and it sounds like the most dramatic move in the company’s 25-year history on the Strip.
But is it? Cirque’s monumental success in Las Vegas tends to eclipse its long tradition of ambitious creativity. We’re all familiar with the marvels of Mystére at Treasure Island and O at Bellagio, which makes it hard to believe those beloved productions were ever considered risky endeavors. Since Cirque has become the Vegas standard, we’ve developed an appetite for something new and fresh, something different from what was originally different.
“I’ve seen that, having been at Cirque for 18 years now,” says Daniel Lamarre, Cirque president and CEO. “We did that with O and Zumanity and KÁ. The Beatles Love was also a huge departure; we forget that today, but it was. Every time we add a new show, it has a huge impact on the entire Cirque portfolio.”
New Cirque shows in Las Vegas tend to reinvigorate audience interest in the Montreal-based company’s other productions, but R.U.N—set to open at the Luxor on October 24 with an official grand opening premiere planned for November 14—could open the door to a new chapter of live entertainment crafted by Cirque.
Billed as a show with a fast-paced storyline, bold and rebellious characters and action movie-style stunt work, R.U.N is designed to appeal to a younger audience, but it also seems to be tailor-made for the Luxor, which is making some interesting changes in the lead-up to its new position as one of the closest Vegas resorts to the 65,000-seat domed stadium that will open next year to host the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.
The addition of R.U.N “shows the direction of where the property is going, and really the whole neighborhood with the Raiders right behind us,” says Luxor President Cliff Atkinson. “We have a little harmony going on here at the pyramid, and we like how complementary the show and the HyperX Esports Arena can be. I think there’s some overlap there, a similar target demographic.”
R.U.N also subscribes to a new meta-narrative in Las Vegas entertainment and tourism, one that supposes visitors are interested in what lies beyond the Strip and sculpts the idea of an authentic Vegas. Lamarre says it was mandatory to set the show’s story in Las Vegas.
“Most people come out for three days and remain on the Strip, and here in this show you will discover an overview of Vegas, including the desert,” he says. “It’s also about getting to people who may not be a natural showgoer, creating something they will want to come to because they’ll feel like they’re not attending a show but attending an experience.”