Where’s all the hype for Zarkana?

This window display is one of few obvious promotions for Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming Zarkana.
Photo: Rick Lax

Remember when Cirque du Soleil trotted out Viva ELVIS? Huge deal. Massive press conference, glossy magazine ads, flashy TV commercials that played every 15 minutes at my gym. And then Viva ELVIS actually debuted and things went downhill. Because the show sucked.*

Well, in just one month, Cirque’s opening a new production in the Viva ELVIS showroom. Only unlike Viva, it’s not brand new; this aerial rock opera has been tested in Madrid, Moscow, and New York where, supposedly, it didn’t suck.

Cirque president Daniel Lamarre modestly says, “Zarkana is a production of the perfect size and scope for the beautiful theater at Aria,” but he also tempts fate by calling the show “a sure bet.” The “sure bet” comment, though, is an anomaly; Cirque’s release approach with Zarkana is decidedly understated. I wouldn’t say they’re keeping the show on the DL, but they’re sure not pumping it the way they pumped Viva.

Which is probably a good thing. If the show flops, it’ll flop quietly. But if it hits—Cirque could really use another hit—it will hit with surprise. And that—a surprise hit—is something Cirque’s never had before.

*Cirque: This is tough love; generally I’m a huge fan; Ka and O are magic to me.


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