Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau
Tuesday, April 30, 2019 | 12:01 a.m.
What would happen if a blockbuster Hollywood action movie was combined with a creative Cirque du Soleil stage production? The Las Vegas Strip will find out in a few short months when the brand-new show “R.U.N” opens at the Luxor on October 24.
It’s been six years since the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group opened an original show in Las Vegas with the music-focused “Michael Jackson ONE” premiering at Mandalay Bay in May 2013. “R.U.N” will be the company’s 47th original production and 10th resident show presented on the Strip, and it appears to mark a major departure from what audiences have come to expect.
“There will be no traditional acrobatic act in this show. We want this one to be distinctive. That’s why we have been working with a lot of people from the movie industry and the stunt industry,” said Daniel Lamarre, Cirque president and CEO. “The script is going to be written by Robert Rodriguez and that by itself says it will be a real story in a more classical way.”
Rodriguez is the producer, writer and director known for action-packed films like “El Mariachi,” “Desperado,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Machete” and more. Most recently he’s co-produced the animated movie “UglyDolls,” in theaters this week.
“R.U.N” will also break away from other Cirque productions by utilizing a more defined narrative, described as a “chapter by chapter … cinematic story featuring bold, rebellious and fearless characters … in an adrenaline-filled adventure where a striking bride leads a series of fast-paced chases, combat and stunts through the underground of Las Vegas.”
The fact that the story is set in Las Vegas is an important element for Cirque du Soleil. “We want to become the flagship of the city and to do that, it has to happen here,” Lamarre said. “You have been to Vegas but if you really want to have the full experience, you have to see ‘R.U.N’.”
The creative team also includes director Michael Schwandt, who’s worked on dozens of different live shows and TV projects and collaborated with artists including Kendrick Lamar, Gloria Trevi, John Legend, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, and composer Tyler Bates, a musician who has created the score for action and horror movies including "Guardians of the Galaxy," “Dawn of the Dead” and “John Wick.”
“You have that group coming from the stunt/movie industry combined with our Cirque creative and production people that are used to live [entertainment] and that’s why I like this idea,” Lamarre said. “Movie people working with live people to deliver an immersive experience. When you sit in your seat, we want you to forget you’re watching something and feel more like you are a part of something. You will be surrounded by giant screens and visual effects and a lot of stunts happening live.”
Bringing an energetic action movie to life is part of the strategy to attract younger audiences, and it’s no coincidence that “R.U.N” will be presented at Luxor in the 1,500-seat theater formerly home to magician Criss Angel.
If you could pick one word to describe the current direction of the nearly 26-year-old pyramid-shaped casino and hotel, it would be “action.” It recently transformed its nightclub space into the HyperX Esports Arena and it’s one of the closest casino resorts to the Las Vegas Stadium being constructed to host the NFL’s relocating Oakland Raiders.
“This is the first of many new and exciting stories coming out of the Luxor, but this is the biggest and we’re really excited about it,” said new Luxor President and COO Cliff Atkinson. “It’s going to be a significant show and it’s really going to change not only MGM Resorts’ entertainment offerings, but we’re also really excited for Cirque to be able to present this departure from what it’s done in the past.”
Cirque du Soleil currently presents “KÁ” at MGM Grand, “Michael Jackson ONE” at Mandalay Bay, “The Beatles LOVE” at the Mirage, “Zumanity” at New York-New York, “Mystére” at Treasure Island and “O” at Bellagio. The company also owns the Blue Man Group production at Luxor, runs resident shows in New York City and in Mexico and tours a dozen other shows around the world.
Despite all the Montreal-based company has achieved in Las Vegas and its near-synonymous relationship with Strip entertainment, Lamarre said the creation of an original show remains a challenging, exciting and nerve-wracking endeavor.
“You have no idea of the anxiety,” he said. “And it’s healthy. Because if we say, ‘We’re Cirque du Soleil and so people will come,’ it wouldn’t work. That would be the beginning of the end. We’re just totally blind right now, diving in and hoping for the best. We are not stupid either, we have experience and we have great people and I think we are mitigating our risk by doing our homework. But you never know in live entertainment how people are going to react and that’s the excitement of working in the entertainment business in this city in particular.”