Cirque du Soleil’s new show will be a hit for Chicago families

Devotees of Cirque du Soleil’s stagecraft expect perfection – and the 19th century-inspired Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities dazzles with its perfect blend of art and science. Vibrantly charming director Michel Laprise illuminates his vision for youth audiences, why this show is doing wonderfully with families and how “impossible” doesn’t exist in the Cirque language.

Cirque du Soleil presents KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities

If you go

  • United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago
  • Aug. 6-Sept. 20
  • Tickets and up

Do kids have a different viewing experience than their parents?

I’m amazed by how much they get. I wanted to create something appealing to all generations and cultures. A bit like a Pixar movie; it’s for the kids, but the parents love it. It’s a steampunk show, so it’s a very playful, very inventive. When I was a kid, I was very…inventive. People ask “How much time does it take to create a Cirque du Soleil show?” In my case, it took two years – and a whole lifetime.

What did the first rehearsal look like?

The whole process has just been pure joy. At the first rehearsal, I said to them, “I want to tell you how I first experienced Cirque du Soleil.” I was with my Dad in Quebec City. I heard this strange music – and you know the legend of the Pied Piper? I had never heard music like that before, and I followed it to this tent. I cried because I didn’t know there could be so much beauty with people working together. So when I started that first rehearsal I said, “I want the audience to have the same emotional experience that I had.”

I know there‘s no hope for me, but how long would someone have to train to perform with Cirque du Soleil?

A lot of circus acts say five years; for us it’s 15. It’s a life of sacrifice, but when you see the audience’s faces… I want to do special matinees for schools, where we could then have a little lecture [to show] the kids that you work hard, and there are a lot of mistakes until you make the level.

Do you have an absolute favorite part of KURIOS?

When you do something fantastic, you cannot do it in an abstract way. I said “I want to have a flying bicycle. And don’t go all Cirque du Soleil. I want a real bicycle, and I want it to go up in the air.”

What must that be like, to say, “I need a flying bicycle,” and then everyone just says, “Oh, OK.

(laughs) Is that too much to ask, a flying bicycle? When she pedals and goes up in the air, it’s magic. The bicycle is very important, because everyone can relate to that. To me, the bicycle was the way to freedom; suddenly, the world was opening. [And there’s an] invisible circus – we have six “invisible” artists. There’s one on a spring board – he’s so scared you see the springboard trembling. The emcee says “Giuseppe needs our support: GIU-SEP-PE! GIU-SEP-PE!” And you see 2,700 people believing in it so much that they’re going “GIU-SEP-PE!” I looked at this and said, “Wow, we’re all 5 years old.”

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