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.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 Snoop Dogg on why he doesn't regret displaying misogyny towards women
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland