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July 30, 2015

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MGM Resorts tells Cirque to shutter ‘Viva Elvis’ at Aria

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Julie Aucoin/Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis at MGM CityCenter’s Aria.

Viva Elvis Blue Carpet @Aria

The blue carpet for the Viva Elvis world premiere at Aria in CityCenter on Feb. 19, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Viva Elvis Media Tour

The Viva Elvis media tour at CityCenter's Aria on Feb. 19, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Viva Elvis Blue Carpet

Celebrities walk the blue carpet at Aria for the premiere of Viva Elvis.

Click to enlarge photo

A copy of an internal memo announcing that "Viva Elvis" is likely to be replaced at the end of 2012.

MGM Resorts has asked Cirque du Soleil to replace its show “Viva Elvis” at the Aria by the end of 2012, citing poor ticket sales. The move is the first time that the Canadian company, which has come to dominate the big-production showrooms on the Strip, has been asked to shut a show since arriving here in 1993 with its first permanent show, “Mystere” at Treasure Island.

“As attendance levels have not been meeting expectations, we have asked our partners at Cirque du Soleil to replace the show,” a company statement said. “We will work closely with Cirque as we explore future entertainment options.”

An internal Cirque du Soleil memo was sent to the cast of “Viva Elvis” on Wednesday afternoon announcing MGM’s intentions. “Viva Elvis” has played 900 performances at the Aria resort at CityCenter, to nearly 1 million people.

In a letter to the cast and crew, Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre said: “All of us are saddened we may have to bring ‘Viva Elvis’ to the end of its journey. The artistic merit of the production is exceptional ... We were given the notice by our partners there. We respect the decision as ticket sales have not met expectations ... I am proud of our work on this show and understand that this is simply a business decision.”

Lamarre said in an interview, “We will now take the appropriate time to focus on redeploying as many of the show’s employees as possible, when the time comes, and evaluating next steps for exploring the many possibilities for creative content.”

MGM Resorts spokesman Alan Feldman said the show simply had not met business expectations. “I think it’s a terrific show, but it’s not selling the tickets we want it to sell. There’s a point in time where we’re in a position to ask them to put in a different show.

“Cirque has a very long planning cycle with its cast, and we don’t want people to not know what’s going on in their lives,” Feldman said.

“Viva Elvis” is the newest of the seven Cirque du Soleil shows along the Strip — its 1,840-seat, acoustically refined showroom costing an estimated $100 million.

The show was previously scheduled to go dark for a 90-day retooling in January and reopen in early spring. A top Cirque official told the Sun Wednesday evening: “The extended dark period for a full revamp of the show will now not take place. It will just be the regular dark period from Feb. 4-11, but we will make previously planned artistic adjustments ... We will also be integrating the Banquine act from our ‘Zed’ show for sure.”

“Zed” is a Cirque production that opened in Tokyo on Oct. 1, 2008, and will close this New Year’s Eve as a result of the economic effects of the Japanese tsunami and earthquake this year. The Banquine number “highlights the extraordinary agility of the human body as the troupe mystifies the audience by performing acrobatics and human pyramids in a series of dramatic movements and perfectly synchronized crossings that depend on the artists’ absolute trust.”

“If the Presley show was suddenly to achieve a 100 percent sold-out rate in the next months, it could live on longer,” the Cirque executive said. “However, that is unlikely.”

Wednesday’s news comes just 10 days before the French Canadian entertainment giant Cirque opens the highly anticipated “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” for a four-week run at Mandalay Bay. A permanent Michael Jackson resident show is scheduled to open in 2013 at Mandalay Bay.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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