“Viva Elvis,” the latest show from Cirque du Soleil, holds its world premiere tonight at Aria and while the audience will be wowed by everything happening onstage, what happens backstage is pretty amazing too.
We were given a peek behind the scenes at some of what happens backstage to make the show run smoothly and look so good on stage.
The show features 77 cast members including nine musicians and four female singers. The only male voice heard in the show is, of course, The King himself.
While all Cirque shows have live musicians, “Viva Elvis” is different in that the band is featured prominently onstage throughout the show. The production features the soaring acrobatics that Cirque is known for, but “Viva Elvis” also includes a lot of dancing and is much more reminiscent of a Broadway-style show than other Cirque shows.
The cast includes three Olympic athletes and 10 acrobats that were on their national teams in gymnastics.
Elvis was all about music and his music is definitely the star of this show. The sound designers wanted to create the feeling of a concert experience and they achieve that with the help of speakers placed behind the curtains on the sides of the theater and 24 subwoofers buried in the theater floor.
The creators spent 3,000 hours reviewing and recording Elvis’ albums, films, concert recordings, interviews and home movies to create a truly unique experience of Elvis’ sound.
The costumes in “Viva Elvis” are inspired by Elvis’ life and the styles of ’50s and ’60s America. Twenty five people work in the wardrobe department of the show and maintain the 340 looks that are featured throughout the production.
At one point in the show, about 50 cast members are decked out in jumpsuits that pay homage to the ones Elvis made famous. They were created in a variety of colors, each decorated with embroidered images of things from Elvis’s life including one representing Las Vegas and one representing Graceland.
In the show’s “Heartbreak Hotel” number, the female cast members wear dresses that were created to look like letters, made from a synthetic paper material. The letters printed on the dresses feature names, addresses and wording from actual letters that Elvis sent and received while he served in the Army.
“Viva Elvis” is a Cirque du Soleil show so there are spectacular acrobatics. One of the more intriguing pieces is a re-imagined Jailhouse Rock sequence. Many remember the iconic scene in the movie and here Cirque has combined dance choreography, acrobatics and technical artistry to allow the performers to walk, jump, spin and more - all upside down.
These are just a few of the things that make “Viva Elvis” a unique production. Head to Aria to catch the show and see all of the elaborate sets, stunts, costumes and makeup.
Backstage with “Viva Elvis” by Jeannie Borbe and Jim Palmquist.
Backstage photos by Jennifer Whitehair.