Cirque CEO says economic crisis not hurting shows
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, April 7, 2009 5:56PM EDT
MONTREAL - The Cirque du soleil's 25th-anniversary show may have an insect theme but the entertainment powerhouse's president isn't bugged by the current economic climate.
CEO Daniel Lamarre has just finished his annual tour of all the Cirque's venues around the globe and he says crowds are still coming out to be entertained.
"When there is a financial crisis people like to be entertained, they like to forget about it," Lamarre told reporters on Tuesday. "I wouldn't go as far as saying it's helping us, but it's certainly not hurting us."
He made his comments at a preview of "Ovo," the Cirque's new show which premieres next month.
"Ovo" is Portuguese for "egg," an object the Cirque says is a timeless symbol of the life cycle.
The life of insects is the underlying theme of the show but Lamarre says "Ovo" is not just about the tiny creatures. It's also about a social commitment to the environment.
He pointed out that Cirque founder Guy Laliberte has set up the One Drop Foundation to fight poverty by making safe water available around the world.
"He's really committed to it so that's why we wanted to use the 25th anniversary, a new show, to create this environment," Lamarre said.
The Cirque started in 1984 and is now a major Quebec-based entertainment organization with more than 4,000 employees.
"Ovo" will premiere May 8 in Montreal's Old Port and then travel to Quebec City, Toronto and the United States.
The cast of "Ovo" features 53 performers from 13 countries doing a variety of dance and acrobatics.
One of them is "Ladybug" Michelle Matlock, who had been a performer in New York City for the past 14 years until she got the call to join the Cirque.
"Five years ago, I auditioned for Cirque du soleil, and five years later I get a call for this part and they say they wanted me to be a ladybug."
Matlock worked for a number of circuses before coming to Montreal, including New York City's Big Apple Circus. She also studied at New York's National Shakespeare Conservatory, a stint that included "some clowning, some acting, and some classical" training.
But since she says "Ovo" is all about the survival of insects, that meant she had to do some homework by visiting Montreal's Insectarium.
"I watched how the ladybug moved and how she rested and it was great to integrate that into the movement and the dance that's in the show," she said in an interview.
Matlock said everyone who is in "Ovo" had to study bugs to see how they moved and how they looked.
"There are families and groups of bugs, but the director was really adamant that each person have their own personality as a bug."
Matlock said a real ladybug "may be a little slow and a little naive, but overall I would say that she's a romantic.
"We're all just bugs and we've got to learn to love each other," she added.