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Cirque du Soleil prepares Moscow launch of most expensive show

posted 27 Jan 2012, 10:13 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 27 Jan 2012, 10:14 ]

Preparations are underway in Moscow for the launch of Cirque du Soleil's most expensive show ever, inside the Kremlin walls, as the company weighs opening a permanent show in its fastest growing market.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (JANUARY 27, 2012) (REUTERS) - Inside of the Kremlin walls, frenzied preparations are underway for the launch in Russia of Cirque du Soleil's most expensive show ever, "Zarkana", which premieres on February 4.

Workers have spent several weeks arranging the $57 million production of "Zarkana" for the State Kremlin Palace Theatre, a 6,000-seat venue inside the Kremlin built on the orders of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and used for Soviet Communist Party congresses.

Cirque du Soleil Russe co-founder Craig Cohon said he was thrilled with the launch of the show on the world's largest stage, which comes as the Canadian company makes great inroads into the Russian market.

"We've had four shows in Moscow in 27 months, so that's the quickest expansion of a Cirque du Soleil city anywhere in the world in the last 10 years," Cohon said, adding that more than 800,000 tickets were sold for those shows.

Zarkana will command the space for more than three months -- much longer than most typical theatre and dance shows. The company, founded by former circus-performer-turned-billionaire and space tourist Guy Laliberte, is expected to decide in April whether to open a permanent show in Moscow.

"When it comes to a permanent presence, we're getting to a point, where we will probably have some type of permanent shows in this city, for several months a year. We're not quite there yet, but we're working on alternatives," Cohon said.

On Friday (January 27) afternoon, designers and artists sewed costumes and laid out make up for cast members, sand sculptress Erika Chen ran through the designs she would make in the performance, and performers rehearsed scenes for the show the Cirque du Soleil calls "an acrobatic rock opera that blends circus arts with the surreal to create a world where physical virtuosity rubs shoulders with the strange."

Some performers balanced and rode inside of large circular rings while others were seemingly suspended from a green sky filled with planets and stars.

A live band accompanied the show about a magician named Zark who has lost his powers.

After concluding its run in Moscow, "Zarkana" heads to New York, where it premiered at Radio City Hall last June.