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February 23, 2019

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‘Zarkana’ at Aria to close temporarily as Cirque refreshes show for 2014

'Zarkana' at Aria

Cirque du Soleil

Zarkana” by Cirque du Soleil.

Updated Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 | 1:18 p.m.

'Zarkana': Red Carpet and Show at Aria

Cirque du Soleil's Launch slideshow »

An Up-Close Look at 'Zarkana' at Aria

An up-close look at Cirque du Soleil's Launch slideshow »

Cirque du Soleil is temporarily shuttering its year-old magical-circus show “Zarkana” at Aria to give it a makeover. It will close at the end of December to take advantage of the planned vacation for cast and crew the first two weeks of January and then reopen in February.

I’ve learned that characters will be added as part of the changes along with new music and a new acrobatic act. “What was dark and mysterious and enthralled audiences in New York and Russia will give way to a lighter and more comedic show for Las Vegas audiences,” I was reliably told.

It was March 7, 2012, in an interview with Cirque chief Daniel Lamarre that I first reported the news that “Zarkana” would replace “Viva Elvis” after the latter’s closing on Aug. 31, 2012.

“Zarkana” is the story of a long-ago magician on a search for his muse and his mojo to regain magic superstardom. The visually stunning acrobatic spectacle praised by New York theater critics was seen by more than 1.5 million people in Manhattan, Moscow and Madrid before it moved 65 trucks of scenery, equipment and wardrobe costumes here to replace Cirque’s Elvis Presley show.

Our three-part series on “Zarkana” began Oct. 30, 2012. Actor Paul Bisson, who starred in “Notre Dame de Paris” in 1999 at Paris Las Vegas, plays Zark. One of Sir Elton John’s favorite composers, Nick Littlemore, created the original score for the production directed by Francois Girard (“Red Violin”).

Since its all-star, red-carpet premiere with Francis Ford Coppola, Siegfried & Roy and more at Aria on Nov. 9, 2012, “Zarkana” has undergone subtle reimagining in a number of areas without having to shut down. The show added a ringmaster MC to explain in English some of the narrative, which previously used Cirque’s international language.

“The new-version reopening in February will definitely be different — a marked change,” I was told.

Cirque said in a just-released statement: “Cirque du Soleil recently celebrated the first anniversary of ‘Zarkana’s’ residency in Las Vegas. A historic aspect of the Cirque artistic philosophy is to constantly renew and refresh productions. For ‘Zarkana,’ we will combine this with routine maintenance, which will result in the show remaining dark for the month of January.

“On its return in February, guests will find an invigorated ‘Zarkana’ with many of the same features that have made it so popular, along with new enhancements, making it even more exciting and vibrant.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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