source: manila bulletin
MANILA, Philippines – “I don’t know what we’re expecting,” Cirque du Soleil artistic director for “Varekai,” Mathieu Gatien, tells Bulletin Entertainment with a happy smile.
“We’ve heard so many good things about the warmth of the population of Manila. I can’t wait to receive all the love that the people will have here because I truly believe we will surprise people.”For the first time in its storied history, the world renowned Cirque du Soleil comes to the Philippines with one of its touring productions.
With a promise to bring its audience into an extraordinary world deep into the forest, at the summit of a volcano, where the story unfolds, “Varekai” will be an explosive fusion of drama and acrobatics set in a magical forest with fantastical creatures all joining the absurd-yet-extraordinary adventure of a young man in the midst of it all.
“Varekai” has been touring for the past nine years already, wowing audiences in North America, Australia and Europe. Its first time in Asia, the production would be touring the region for most of the year. Starting just last January, Gatient noted at the time of the interview that their Taipei stint was about to wrap up; while Korea Herald reported “Varekai” would be arriving in Seoul on April 6 for a series of shows at the Seoul Olympic Stadium that would run until May 29.
By June 22, “Varekai” premieres in Manila for a limited engagement at the Blue-and-Yellow Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) tent at the Luneta, across the Quirino Grandstand. The big top venue is specifically being built for the show, which would run until July.
“We like being destabilized day after day,” Gatien says about touring Asia. “I think coming [here], it’s nice because the culture is so different. Being a live show, we need the audience for the show to work—we need the reaction, the energy, the generosity—so that we give out, and the audience gives back.”
Renowned for their stunning display of skills and power intertwined with vivid choreography, “Varekai” promises to mesmerize Manila audiences with its mind-blowing acts like the elaborate Russian swings, the Triple Trapeze (a heightened display of skill featuring four women dong a series of acrobatic moves with grace and impeccable timing up in the air), as well as The Flight of Icarus, the Aerial Straps and Aerial Hoop.
Present during the press conference held at the Grand Ballroom of the Manila Hotel were the Italian acrobats, brothers Stiv and Roni Bello, who gave an astonishing sample of their act, Icarian Games. The German Derkin Tokmak also gave a short sampling of his Solo on Crutches act.
“It’s a complex machine,” Gatien says of their entire traveling production. “We have very, very efficient people. Very experienced. So I think that it is complex but we are surrounded by such competence and expert people in their field that it’s something that really goes quite easily when everybody is doing the maximum that they can.”
Just to give a brief idea of how intricate the production is, the costumes alone provide astounding figures. There are over 130 costumes in the show’s wardrobe—with a total of 600 original costumes, shoes, wigs, hats and accessories developed after over 33,000 hours of hard work. In North America, Cirque du Soleil has almost 400 full time employees working in fields as varied as shoemaking, textile design, wig-making, lace-making, and so on.
And because the show is so intricate, and without time to train local workers or even artists, Gatien admits they could only hire local front-of-house staff (ushers) as well as food and beverage people for each stop, like they would in Manila. “It’s more… [for] welcoming of the people. We trust the local people to know how to operate, how to speak to them, to make them really welcome in our big top,” he notes, but also adds, “The follow spot operator, we hire one every city, as a gesture.”
“What I love about ‘Varekai’ is that it was always meant to be a celebration of life,” Gatien shares. “From the beginning of the show, all the cast is onstage, and we really kick it off with incredibly beautiful music… very explosive. In times that are a bit difficult, economically and for different reasons, we need to give people a place to dream and to escape… and to just appreciate something that’s just beautiful.”
For this year alone, Cirque du Soleil has 19 different shows around the world, like touring arena shows “Saltimbanco” in Europe and “Allegria” in North America; Touring big top shows like “Dralion” and “Quidam” in North America; and ongoing resident shows like the ones in Las Vegas: “Mystère” at Treasure Island, “The Beatles: Love” at The Mirage, “Criss Angel: Believe” at Luxor and “Viva Elvis” at the ARIA Resort and Casino at City Center.
Their latest masterpiece is a touring tribute to the late King of Pop, “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” which premieres in Canada in November this year. It would eventually go into residency also in Las Vegas several years later, and would most likely tour Asia as well.
Tickets to “Varekai” are now on sale.
source: manila bulletin