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Cirque du Soleil in Honolulu


Photo: courtesy Cirque du soleil

Once on a Big Island beach, a young Canadian dreamed up the name for a new circus show in Quebec City. Twenty-six years later, Guy Laliberté’s Cirque du Soleil, or “Circus of the Sun,” is an entertainment powerhouse, with both permanent shows in specific theaters and tours that thrill audiences worldwide. Cirque debuted in the Islands with Saltimbanco in 2008; this month, Cirque returns with its signature Alegría at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena from Oct. 15 through Oct. 31. We caught up with Alegría senior artistic director Michael Smith when he visited in June for a technical scout of the arena.

Q: Typically, how far in advance do you go to a location before a show?

A: I don’t, normally. Hawaii is an exception because it’s further, and there’s a much bigger risk in cost in bringing the show here, so it’s to check everything is A-OK. We’ve had some technical issues with Alegría—there’s an act in the show that’s very difficult, so [I want to] double-check that.

Q: How would you describe Alegría?

A: The themes of the show are about the generational gap, that every generation has a right to exist; it’s just that the younger generation that comes along always want to change everything—and they want their voice to be heard.


Q: So what does Alegría mean?

A: It’s a Spanish word that means “joy” and our hope is that everybody who comes into the show leaves exhilarated, inspired, with aspirations to dream, to be the best they can be, to do the impossible—all those really great human things—because what people do in the show is the impossible.


Q: Will Cirque continue to come to Hawaii?

A: It’s our second time here, so it takes time to open up a new market. Yes, there’s a distance; yes, there’s a cost to bring everything here, but we think it’s worth it. Last time we were here, 35,000 people came to see the show with Saltimbanco.


About 150 locals will be hired by Cirque du Soleil to help the show run smoothly.


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Honolulu Magazine June 2020
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