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Cirque’s ‘Mystere’ vaults to 13,000th show at Treasure Island

Updated August 18, 2022 - 6:23 pm

Cirque du Soleil pushed the pandemic reopening of “Mystere” up a few weeks. This was at the gentle behest (cough) of Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin, acutely interested in bringing the show back ASAP to re-energize business at his hotel.

So “Mystere” reopened alongside “O” in June 2021, the first two Cirque shows to perform in the COVID-19 relaunch. Wise move. “Mystere” has been cranking along with better-than-anticipated numbers ever since.

The first Cirque resident production in Vegas celebrates its 13,000th performance Saturday night. That figure marks the most shows ever for a Cirque production, by a long shot. It’s a height even a planche artist can’t reach. “O” at Bellagio is next at about 11,000, followed by “Ka” at 7,500 (hitting the mark this week), and the touring show “Allegria” with 7,252.

Cirque President Eric Grilly says “Mystere” has swept up the family market that has swept into Vegas, post-COVID.

“It’s probably one of the most competitive summers for live entertainment ever in Vegas, and the international travelers are still not back yet,” Grilly says. “But there are still a lot of families here, so it’s a different demographic. But we have been exceeding expectations. ‘Mystere’ has not missed a beat since it’s reopened. It has defied all seasonality that we’ve experienced in the past, and just performs strong weekdays and weekends. Ten shows a week.”

Grilly says “Mystere” is undergoing “almost a Renaissance, since it reopened, and has come back stronger than it was even before COVID.”

Grilly says it might be another full year for Cirque’s international business to return to post-COVID-19 levels. At peak, 10 to 15 percent of Cirque’s audience has been international travelers. Not so, currently. But Cirque does attract families that fly in from inside the U.S., or drive in, with “O,” ‘Ka,” “Love” and “MJ One” enjoying wide-demographic appeal.

“I’ve never seen more kids and families in this town in my life,” Grilly says. “You walk around casinos all the time, and you can see it. They have very different purchasing patterns than the traditional customer that’s here during summer months.”

“Mystere” marks its 30th anniversary on the Strip in December 2023. The paperwork indicates it will be around a whole lot longer.

“When we weren’t busy running our shows, we were busy thinking about our future,” Grilly says. “We were able to come to an agreement to extend the show for another 10 years with with Mr. Ruffin. So we are confident about our future, absolutely.”

‘Mad’ for this one

Cirque’s only Las Vegas show with aggressive grown-up content (thanks to the comic stylings of the terrific Harrison Greenbaum) is “Mad Apple” at New York-New York. Grilly is pleased with the performance of that show, too, entering its fourth month. “That show continues to do very, very well from an occupancy perspective.”

Comic Brad Williams left the show this week, clearing his three-month commitment. He might be back. The British freestyle rapper Chris Turner is also out, returning to the U.K. and not being replaced. But Greenbaum is expanding his role as the show’s de facto host, and just signed a yearlong extension with the company.

Grilly says the door is open for other comic headliners perform pop-up sets in “Mad Apple.”

“We have had some people reach out to us proactively about appearing in the show,” Grilly says. “At this point, given how new the show is, we’re trying to manage that. I wouldn’t see anything in the next month happening, but I would not be surprised to see that happen in the future.”

‘Love’ me do

As already announced, The Beatles “Love” will perform during the transition of Mirage to Hard Rock Hotel, extended through 2023. The contract between Cirque and MGM Resorts would end then. Hard Rock officials have not formally stated their plans for the show.

“Love” has not had as strong a reopening as “Mystere” or “O.” For starters, the Beatles-Cirque partnership often hits about 50 percent capacity. Midweek numbers are especially rough. The show’s future with the incoming Hard Rock ownership team needs to be sorted out.

“We have obviously started conversations with them, about ‘Love’ and about many, many other things, as they are a growth company and we are as well,” Grilly says. “But until they actually own the property, we really can’t advance our conversations. We’re in a bit of a holding pattern. I don’t anticipate having any more news until probably Q1 of next year.”

There is also a vision (primarily from this perch) that Cirque could send “Love” on tour, which would appear a tantalizing option. “Love” remains the only live adaptation of Beatles music and images anywhere in the world that is authorized by Apple Corps, the band’s licensing company.

Grilly says there are no plans to tour the show, “But we certainly would if our partners at Apple Corps agreed to it. That would be a possibility.” That strategy would work opposite of how “MJ One” opened on the Strip, after touring as “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour.”

And “MJ One” is a success story, celebrating its 10th anniversary in June. That benchmark is followed by “O’s” 25th in October, then “Mystere,” as Cirque piles up the milestones.

Cool Hang Alert

For the first time, our hero Wassa Coulibaly is adding live music to her burlesque productions at Baobab Stage at Town Square. “A Night of Burlesque and Brass,” featuring Michael Evan & The Nest Band, is set for 9 p.m. (doors at 8 p.m.) Friday. Coulibaly will perform, as will Tana The Tattooed Lady. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door, $45 VIP. Tattoos not included. Go to baobabstage.com for info.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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