September 28, 2011

‘IRIS’ explores wonders of cinema

Posted in Between Us column, Business, Entertainment, Movies at 9:54 pm by dinaheng

If French is the language of seduction and love, Hollywood has fallen under the spell of Cirque du Soleil’s new extravaganza, “IRIS…A Journey Through the World of Cinema,” now playing in the Kodak Theatre in the heart of Tinseltown.

The $100-million production, which starts a 10-year run in the venue that hosts the Academy Awards, is the newest jewel in the crown of the Montreal-based global entertainment company known for creating innovative shows with stunning visuals and dazzling acrobatic performances.

The origin of the show goes back to 2002, when Cirque du Soleil was asked to perform in the Kodak Theatre as part of that year’s Academy Awards show, presenting the nominees for Best Picture.

“It was nerve racking to be in front of the world on television,” recalls Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, “but we got a standing ovation, and I thought there was a possibility to do something here.”

CIM GROUP, which owns the Kodak Theatre, thought the same, and contacted Lamarre to see whether a partnership in an ongoing production at the facility would be possible. Lamarre and Guy Laliberté, the owner and founder of Cirque du Soleil, said yes.

“The challenge is to become the flagship of Los Angeles, a must-see event for 1.8 million tourists who walk in front of the Kodak Theatre every day,” Lamarre says. “I feel confident that what we have created has the elements of success.”

The City of Los Angeles and local businesses agree, rolling out the red carpet for its newest resident, and offering consumers everything from “IRIS” dinner discounts at area restaurants to parking specials.

The show brings a major new tourist attraction to the area, raising the bar of entertainment on Hollywood Boulevard from watching the occasional movie premiere from the sidewalk to a live theatrical performance that charges anywhere from $43 (plus handling fee) to  $253 for a VIP ticket (plus the fee).

In a town that worships the movies, there’s no doubt that audiences will embrace the dance,  circus arts, and storytelling that come together in this dazzling production directed by Philippe Decouflé, a French choreographer and dancer. Fittingly, the orchestral score was written by prolific movie composer Danny Elfman, who received Grammy Award nominations for scoring “Milk” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

Spectacle and grace come together in the magical world of “IRIS,” where cinema’s ability to transport viewers to a make-believe world is reflected in moments where live performances are blended with multimedia presentations, such as one graceful act where the dancers are shadowed by their rapidly unfolding choreography on the screen behind them.

Amazing acrobatics, imaginative staging, and a touch of humor make this show a true homage to Hollywood. As with every circus, the clowns offer a comic, and sometimes poignant, commentary on the frenetic madness of the movie-making industry.

As one clown noted, “This is the real true story of Hollywood… rejection.”

For those who have stars in their eyes, though, “IRIS” will not disappoint. Fans of Cirque du Soleil’s acrobatic artistry will applaud the performers in the flying trapezes, the contortionists who twist their bodies into impossible positions, and the trampoline artists who never miss a beat in their intricate routines.

While the show gives a nod to aspects of cinema, from Noir as a film genre to the development of animation, there’s no clear evolutionary journey through the history of filmmaking. Instead, the love story of two characters — Buster and Scarlett — serves as an emotional through-line against the backdrop of an ever-changing motion and picture spectacle on stage.

The snippets of their story makes sweet poetic sense, since all movies are really about love — the search for love, the loss of love, finding love anew…

For an evening of seduction and wonder, “IRIS” is sure to please.

For ticket information, check out cirquedusoleil.com/IRIS or call 877-943-4747.

 

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