June 20, 2018
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Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Varekai’ team talks magic behind the scenes, on stage

By Emily Burnham, BDN Staff

The circus is in town — though it’s a circus unlike Bangor has ever seen, as Cirque du Soleil opens its five-day run of “Varekai” from June 18 to 22 at the Cross Insurance Center. The world-renowned company of acrobats, dancers and musicians will perform seven shows from Wednesday through Sunday, and tickets, which are still available, are $49-$139 for regular adult seats. The Bangor Daily News talked with Cirque du Soleil publicist Vanessa Napoli and assistant production manager Michael Naumann, both Cirque veterans, about the magic that happens behind the scenes during setup, and the magic during the show.

How big of an operation is the “Varekai” touring show? Just how much equipment and labor is required to set it up?

Naumann: We have 18 trucks with our production. There’s 27 technicians that travel on tour. We hire about 80 people on load-in days to load the show and about 100 people on load-out days to pack it all up. It takes us roughly 12 hours to set the show up and about three and a half hours to put it back and head on out to the next city. It’s pretty much the same setup in each city, though we can adapt the height to the size of arena. You wouldn’t notice it during the show, though.

What is the story of “Varekai”?

Napoli: Varekai was written and directed by Dominic Champagne, and it basically starts where the myth of Icarus stops, and what happened after his wings melted when he flew too close to the sun. In his version of the story, Icarus falls into a magical enchanted forest, where he meets all these fantastical creatures that all participate in his story of rebirth. There are a lot of metaphors for life in the show itself, and the plot is placed loosely, so the audience can take from it what they will. The message we hope to convey is that even if you lose your wings, you can still get up and walk.

From a technical standpoint, what’s the biggest wow factor of the show?

Naumann: We have almost 100 moving lights on the show. It’s just really pretty. When you walk in and see the stage and the way it pops, it’s just really, really cool. We have 330 bamboo trees that we load into the stage, and they’re all gold and all shiny, so it’s really neat.

What specifically can first-time Cirque-goers expect to see?

Napoli: For anyone’s who’s never seen a Cirque show, you can expect to see the unexpected. You can plan to be transported to a dreamlike fantasy world. And you watch people do unreal things. The level of acrobatics displayed on the stage is the top talent from all over the world. The costumes are not only beautiful, but they are part of the story as well, just like the musicians and everything else that’s on set. It feels like a dream.


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