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Author Topic: Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre talks Las Vegas, MGM and Michael Jackson  (Read 724 times)

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By Robin Leach (contact)

Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre talks Las Vegas, MGM and Michael Jackson

Thursday, May 5, 2011 | 2:46 p.m.

Robin Leach's Vegas DeLuxe
The Michael Jackson: Immortal World Tour by Cirque du Soleil four-part interview series began Monday with John Branca, co-executor of The Estate of Michael Jackson, followed by Jackie Jackson, older brother of Michael, and Mandalay Bay President Chuck Bowling on Tuesday and writer, director and choreographer Jamie King yesterday.

The interviews wrap up today with Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre’s overview of Immortal, which arrives at Mandalay Bay on Dec. 3 for a now-33-performance engagement.

Here is Daniel’s overview in his own words.

Michael Jackson has been very, very generous to Cirque du Soleil. He saw all of our shows, and he would always say good things about Cirque du Soleil. Having the credibility of an amazing artist like that certainly has contributed to our success. But I will never forget the one day that Michael came to our studios in Montreal. Our 5,000 employees were thrilled to host him, and today I have the feeling that all of Cirque du Soleil wants to pay tribute to Michael as Mandalay Bay becomes the home of Michael Jackson in many, many ways.

First our new arena tour starts in December. It will be on tour in North America for two years, and as it goes off on the global leg, we will open the permanent show at Mandalay Bay in early 2013. We are going to put a lot of effort to bring to life a tribute to Michael Jackson with a lot of new technologies that will be involved in the new theater. But that alone is not good enough.

We thought that people would want to see more of Michael, and we are developing an event that is going to be called The Michael Jackson All Access. We are right now exploring all of that with Ubisoft. Their creation of the Michael Jackson interactive dance game has had an amazing success, selling millions and millions. They’re going to be our interactive partner in this new experience.

We’re also going to have in December at Mandalay Bay a Michael Jackson Fan Festival in conjunction with the Immortal Tour. It will allow the fan to really have the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the show itself. We’re also going to have a Michael Jackson Lounge. So all those elements of content will ensure that his presence is very well recognized. He is the No. 1 personality, so we don’t want to disappoint all those fans who are going to come from all over the world to see the Michael Jackson experience.

We have been blessed during all these years to have this amazing Las Vegas partnership with MGM, and now again Cirque De Soleil has the opportunity to realize a new dream. To have the privilege to work with the Michael Jackson Estate is also amazing. This project would have not been possible without the great collaboration of MGM, particularly Chuck Bowling and his Mandalay Bay team -- a very dynamic organization. The co-executors of the Michael Jackson Estate have allowed us to develop in a very short period of time a lot of partnerships on all fronts in order not only to pay tribute to this great, great artist but also to meet the expectations of all Michael’s fans.

The touring show will be the closest you can get to a rock concert. The permanent show will be much more intimate, with a lot of new technologies and effects to immerse people in his world. We will also have the interactive zone, where we would like to re-create the spirit of Neverland there. A fan in the interactive experience could actually dance to “Thriller” with Michael in the same video.

We’re experimenting with everything possible interactive and 3D. Ubisoft has sold millions of videos of Michael, and we know that people want to dance to his music. That’s what we will deliver in the dream Michael Jackson environment. Our ultimate goal is to give you the full sense and feel of what Neverland was.

Cirque du Soleil and Michael Jackson
We don’t know quite yet know where the M.J. Zone will be located in Mandalay Bay, but the show itself will definitely go into The Lion King theater with an early 2013 premiere. We’re going to refurbish the theater quite a bit. MGM and ourselves are going to invest in that, which will take some time. We are designing right now.

The Lion King will end Dec. 30, and then we just walk in the theater the next day and start. Our experience is that it always takes 18 to 24 months to make it happen, and later when the designs are completed, we can set the premiere date. But it will still have 1,800 seats and two shows nightly.

We won’t be able to bring the touring show back to Mandalay Bay, as we have requests from promoters all over the world, and we want to give fans around the world the opportunity to see that show. In North America, I think two years will be the ultimate run because when the permanent show opens, I want the permanent show to become the exclusive show in North America.

The arena show will go off to Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and beyond and will probably run five years! The logistics of it are crazy. We have to hire engineers to make sure the roof of all the arenas can sustain the weight of the equipment we’re shipping in 25 amazing trucks. The cast will fly from city to city while the trucks move by road and ship.

It is by far the largest traveling show Cirque has ever undertaken. It’s almost like if you have three casts. Normally we have the acrobats. Now we have the acrobats, the dancers, the musicians and all the video team behind the amazing production. There will be a huge component of video in that show, and that comes with a lot of equipment, a lot of technicians, and that’s why it’s going to be so big. It’s the most exciting project ever for Cirque.

Guy (Laliberte, Cirque’s founder) and I were shaking our heads the other night when you realize that the three most iconic music stars in the history of music, The Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson, have all selected Cirque du Soleil to do a show. This is the ultimate thrill for us. When Michael came to visit our studios in Montreal, as I said at the beginning, he wanted to do a show with us. Now that will finally come true, but much bigger than we ever envisioned when we first talked with him.