Heavy Rains Not Affecting Cirque du Soleil's Big Top at Dodger Stadium

Cirque's director of operations talks to THR about how El Niño rainfall is affecting the "Kurios" show.
Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

L.A. has been getting soaked this week due to El Niño-delivered rain storms that have caused havoc across the Southland, causing mudslides and flooding freeways.

But there’s been an unexpected bright side to the downpours, according to Yannick Chapados, director of site operations for Cirque du Soleil’s current show at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities.

“We usually wash our tents very often, but because of the drought in California, we haven’t washed at all. Now they look clean naturally because of the hard rain,” Chapados tells THR. “When it rains, some people hate it, but for us we look at it as a good thing — now the tents are clean.”

Chapados and the Cirque crew are able to have such a sunny perspective on the recent rainfall for another reason: the Dodger Stadium parking lot that is hosting the entire Kurios operation is on a slope, directing the rainfall downhill. Kurios — directed by a Cirque veteran, featuring a cast of 46 artists from 15 countries and centering on the tale of an ambitious inventor who defies laws of time, space and physics to transform the reality around him — opened in L.A. on Dec. 10, 2015, with performances continuing through Feb. 7.

“The way the Dodgers parking lot is structured, there are zero puddles forming on site,” explains Chapados, who has been with Cirque for 15 years. “We may have had a few minor leaks, like a drop of water in the kitchen or something, but that is easily fixed. For California, the last two days have been wet, but we are prepared for much more.”

Chapados notes that the worst experience the Cirque team has encountered was when the traveling performance troupe set up shop in Manilla, the capital of the Philippines, during monsoon season. “We had to dig big trenches and some trenches were big enough to swim in,” he says. “South America and Bogota were also challenging.”

Cirque rep Amélie Robitaille adds that the rain in L.A. has been more of a slight inconvenience. And if anything, her team has to rally to let Angelenos know that the show does go on. “We haven’t seen any impact from the rain, but we like to reassure guests that the Big Top is dry and shows are not canceled.”

The aforementioned tent stands 62 feet high and is supported by four masts, which each measure 85 feet tall, and is one of several tents in the Cirque village at Dodger Stadium, housing the performers, costumes and crew. When the show exits Southern California, Kurios then heads to Atlanta, Boston, New York and Washington D.C. More information can be found here.

Fortunately, Chapados and Robitaille say they are only dealing with rain and not snow, which has the potential to accumulate on the top of the tent and cause more problems. “And from what I hear from my colleagues, we would have a much different story (with the rain) if we were on the beach in Santa Monica," he says. 

Cirque's Big Top has a seating capacity of about 2,700, and requires a team of approximately 50 people to raise the structure. 
(Photo credit: Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil)