When the news broke this week that Madonna had chosen Cirque du Soleil and another Montreal company, Moment Factory, to help her create a stunning Super Bowl halftime act, it grabbed headlines around the world.
That was the good news – along with the fact that “Cirque week” was being celebrated in Las Vegas, to coincide with the opening of Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour at the Mandalay Bay resort.
But with a sunshine circus that currently has 23 shows running around the world, there’s always a stray cloud or two on the horizon.
Like the fact that Cirque’s Viva Elvis has just been politely evicted from the Aria resort in Las Vegas (with a stay of execution until the end of 2012), due to underwhelming ticket sales. Also, Zed, which rode out an earthquake and tsumani in Japan, will be closing this New Year’s Eve at Tokyo Disney resort. (Two Zed acts will be blended into Mystère in Vegas, and another injected into the ailing Viva Elvis.)
Then there was that nasty review of Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour in the L.A. Times.
All the more reason to focus on the Madonna-at-Super-Bowl project.
Jacques Méthé is the executive producer and general manager of special events and images at Cirque du Soleil, a lesser known department that Madonna has just elevated into the spotlight.
When I spoke to Méthé on Monday, I learned that the Cirque already had a relationship with the NFL. “We delivered a pre-game Super Bowl number for them in Miami several years ago,” he said.
Previous Cirque sports event gigs include a basketball event, in Turkey, he added. “We do anywhere between 30 and 60 events every year, the size of which differ greatly,”
But none so stellar, yet top secret, as the Madonna operation.
Madonna’s team initiated the deal, he explained, although the fact that Jamie King, who just directed the Cirque’s Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour, is also involved makes it seem like it’s all in the family.
“Our role in this is to contribute ideas and components to the scenario,” Méthé said. “It is our imagination that is solicited here.”
One thing is clear, “It’s all about Madonna,” he said. “We leave it to her to decide if and when she wants to reveal anything. This is a Madonna event that we’re contributing to. It’s not about Cirque, it’s about Madonna. The part we’re playing there is really in the creative content and the follow-up, until delivery.”
As for Moment Factory, it was the Cirque who brought them on board, to handle the projections and multimedia side of the number.
The Cirque team has been working with Madonna for about three weeks now, Méthé said. And yes, she has been very hands-on.
“She knows what she wants,” he said. “That’s how big stars are.”
The 2012 Super Bowl will be aired on NBC on Feb. 5.
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