Is the sun going down on Cirque du Soleil?
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Friday 18 January 2013
Its new London show received sceptical reviews, and now Cirque du Soleil faces questions about its future - after announcing plans to axe 400 jobs to cover spiralling costs.
As the international circus company approaches its 30th birthday, there are growing questions in its native Montreal about whether the troupe that reinvented big-top entertainment has lost its way.
Despite raking in more than C$1bn (£634m) in revenues from its 19 shows around the world last year, Cirque failed to make a profit. This week it announced a brutal cuts programme, including the departure of 400 of its 5,000 employees.
Its spokeswoman, Renée-Claude Mnard, said the company was reviewing all of its expenses “to ensure that we decrease them significantly”. Cirque’s shows cost up to C$25m to develop, and while some continue to play to packed houses, others failed to wow the crowds.
The company’s finances have been hit by the strength of the Canadian dollar against its US equivalent.Following an unbroken run of hits, Banana Shpeel proved a flop and was cancelled in 2010 after poor reviews and disappointing ticket sales. Viva Elvis closed in Las Vegas last year, while Iris is set to end its Hollywood run this month.
Some commentators attribute the problems to Cirque’s decision in 2008 to triple its output and expand the range of shows, which has left it under huge strain. One columnist called it a “quarter-life crisis”.
The latest Cirque show to reach Britain, Kooza, has earned mixed reviews at London’s Royal Albert Hall. One critic called it a “surprising snoozer”, another called it “bloated by blandness” and a third said it was “impressive but almost entirely soulless”. The Independent on Sunday criticised the “stratospheric” ticket prices and a show “thick-coated in corporate gloss”.
Cirque du Soleil was founded in Canada by a former stilt-walker, Guy Laliberté, in 1984.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 Sussex couple die in suspected Christmas Day 'suicide pact'
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
The Interview film review: Controversial gross-out satire is broad, bawdy and bad - but undeniably entertaining
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'