HEAT VISION

Robert Rodriguez Teams With Cirque du Soleil for Stunt-Centered Vegas Show

The Montreal-based acrobatic entertainment company is searching for younger audiences with a "live action thriller" written by the 'Alita: Battle Angel' director.
Laurent Viteur/Getty Images; Samantha Burkardt/Getty Images for SXSW
The Montreal-based acrobatic entertainment company is searching for younger audiences with a "live action thriller" written by the 'Alita: Battle Angel' director.

There won’t be an acrobat in sight when R.U.N by Cirque du Soleil debuts Oct. 24 at Luxor Las Vegas. Although the Montreal-based entertainment company is known for its aerialists, tumblers, contortionists, divers and the like, Cirque is proclaiming this show the dawn of a new era.

"We see it as the first live-action thriller by Cirque du Soleil. If you take the [top] 10 movies today, [likely] nine out of 10 are action. And that's why we thought there was potential to do a live action show," says Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group. "We are working with the stunt community of Hollywood and with the movie industry."

R.U.N is written by Alita: Battle Angel director Robert Rodriguez, directed by The Masked Singer’s creative director Michael Schwandt with creative direction by Cirque alum Stefan Miljevic and action and horror composer Tyler Bates, whose credits include Dawn of the Dead, 300, Sucker Punch and John Wick.

Lamarre says Cirque du Soleil has always nurtured its relationship with Rodriguez. "Because of his movie experience he was able to write a story that will be compelling. And the narrative will be easy for the audience to [follow]," he says. "We have brought together a team that has expertise in stunts, movies and visual effects and the Cirque du Soleil side has amazing experience in theatrical, sound and live performance."

The name also blends meanings and can be read literally as “run” or with a more immersive connotation: "Are you in?"

"The experience has to start when you will walk in the lobby. You will have the feeling as you put your first foot in the door that you are moving into a different world," Lamarre says of the theater that was occupied for 10 years by Cirque du Soleil's collaborative production with illusionist Criss Angel. "We are adding screens and we are surrounding the spectator as much as we can to create this idea [of] being part of the action. You might see a scene where a portion of it will be totally live but the background might be movies. When we have conducted our research about what people were looking for in terms of new content in Vegas, people wanted to see a show where they're not just there as a spectator, but they have the feeling that they are a participant. And that's why immersive is the key word.”

Taking inspiration from graphic novels, R.U.N uses live-action performance, technology and multimedia to explore the world of stunts. Set in the underground of Las Vegas, R.U.N actually features a script — unlike most Cirque shows — that centers on a striking bride who leads a series of fast-paced chases and combat sequences. There will be around 60 castmembers and as of this announcement, 90 percent are selected.

"Our casting department has been overwhelmed by how many stunt people there are, so now it's almost like we have opened a new branch," says Lamarre. "And we have conducted workshop for many months now to make sure that the stunts would remain very credible when they are live."

Although it remains the dominant entertainment force in terms of ticket sales on the Las Vegas Strip, Cirque recognizes that audiences are changing and demand is evolving. “You have no idea how important it is for us to go in a new direction,” Lamarre says. “We're hoping to attract a younger crowd. And as soon as you see the visual of this show, you will get it in a heartbeat.”

  • Melinda Sheckells
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