Three resident Las Vegas shows just returned from an “intermission” that started in March 2020 when Las Vegas essentially shut down. The reopenings of Blue Man Group (June 24) and Mystère (June 28) happened somewhat quietly, but the reopening of O by Cirque du Soleil on July 1 came back with a bang—and a parade.
Top Vegas Shows are Back
Last week, cast members of the beloved showcase production stepped out of limousines outside the Bellagio to announce their return. The cast was met with cheering Bellagio employees holding signs to welcome them back to their home stage. The parade began at the North Valet of the property, continued to Mayfair Supper Club and the Main Lobby for photos before ending at the “O” Theatre.
WhereTraveler interviewed Matt Nickel, Cirque du Soleil’s Vice President of Resident Shows Operations and Thomas Randal, the Resident General Manager for Blue Man Group, to get insight on the reopening, lockdown and what’s different about the newly returned shows.
The Audience Experience
“Mentally and emotionally, I think most audience members will appreciate the shows and experience much more after no Vegas entertainment for over a year. It really is a special moment for audience members to walk back in the theatre doors for their first time since lockdown,” Nickel shared with me when I asked how the audience experience may differ.
Randall sees change as a natural part of having a rotating cast, “Blue Man Group is an experience that can differ depending on the show location, the specific cast that day and also with the energy of the audience. The recent evolution of the show is part of this natural process for us, and I believe audiences will continue to have a great time enjoying our signature brand of humor and music.”
Changes Resulting From Covid-19
With so many shows returning, it’s clear certain shows had to make new changes and accommodations for Covid-19 safety. Randall outlined some of these changes for me at Blue Man Group, “Our artistic and production teams stepped through each scene of the show, both onstage and backstage, for any changes to maximize COVID safety for cast, crew and audience while maintaining the high artistic integrity of the show. We were mostly able to accomplish our goals with a number of small tweaks, though one or two scenes have been updated a bit more extensively.”
Entering Lockdown in March 2020
Of course, we can’t talk about the return without talking about the “intermission.” Like many of us, the cast and crew had hoped the lockdown would be short. “My initial thoughts were that lockdown was going to be quick, but obviously that was not the case. I wished for everyone not only in the shows but in our city and in our world, to be safe and get better so things can return back to “normal.” Lockdown really put into perspective how much we take for granted in our work and personal lives,” Nickel tells us.
Randall’s response to the initial lockdown echoed Nickel’s sentiment, “While it was heartbreaking to have to announce that our show was going dark, it felt like the right decision at the right time in light of the emerging situation with COVID. The safety of our community was paramount, as painful as it was for everyone to experience a temporary show closure.”
While the pain of the closures was certainly intense, the excitement for reopening was contagious as the producers were able to bring performers back to work. “Having Cirque du Soleil shows back on makes it feel like the city is complete again. Entertainment is the industry that took the longest to restart, so having Cirque back and all entertainment, in general, become live again is an amazing feeling and big relief,” Nickel explained.
Randal expressed the same excitement, “It would be an understatement to say how thrilled and overwhelmed by emotion I was when we realized we would be able to reopen the show and set the date for the first public performance. I was looking forward to calling our company members, catching up with them, and making offers to bring them back to the show.”
Preparing to Return
Unlike typical jobs, preparing to reopen required considerably more work for production teams as performers are from around the world and would need to get back in shape during rehearsals. “Over the past year or so, there was a core team that worked on developing and redeveloping plans to reopen the show. Once we were able to engage these plans and bring back our performers, technical crew, and management staff, we hit the ground running and adapted to the new reality as needed. It was a monumental task, and our team rose to the challenge for a very successful reopening!” Randal explained happily.
The happiness felt by the production teams is palpable as Nickel explains, “Prepping for the return was like putting a lot of puzzle pieces back together. An immense amount of health and safety planning was done before notifying our artists and the staff and technicians of the scheduled return to performances. We have done an amazing amount of work to get the shows ready for audiences again, and we’re thrilled that #intermission is over!”
Blue Man Group is now open at Luxor Las Vegas, "O" by Cirque du Soleil is now open at Bellagio and "Mystère" is now open at TI. Please remember to check online for performance nights. "Michael Jackson ONE" returns to Mandalay Bay on August 19 and "The Beatles LOVE" returns to the Mirage on August 26.