Cirque co-founder Guy Laliberte says the company was looking for a special space in New York when they received a call from Madison Square Garden. "They said, 'We have one of the most beautiful and largest theatres in the world, why not create a show for Radio City Music Hall?'" he recalls.
So Laliberte and the Cirque team headed to Rockefeller Center. "It all started with meetings on the sidewalk. Once we went inside, and saw this place with such architecture, vast scale, and history, we knew we would have to be inspired," he says. "This is New York. Nothing would do but the very best."
The piece, whose storyline centers on the phantasmagorical world of a lovelorn magician named Zark, will be brought to life via 75 incredibly agile artists and clowns hailing from 15 countries and a crew of 88. The title is said to be a fusion of the words "bizarre" and "arcane," referencing mystery and a secret domain.
To bring the new spectacle to life, Laliberté chose Cirque's veteran director of creation, Line Tremblay, and writer and director François Girard, both of whom spearheaded ZED, Cirque's dazzling resident stage production and permanent installation at Tokyo's Disneyland.
Of course, many of Cirque du Soleil's traditional performers will be on hand, such as the clowns who interact with audiences before the show. Meanwhile, spectators will be able to partake in a wide spectrum of acts, including exquisite sand painting by Erika Chen to tennis ball juggling by Maria Choodu, jaw-dropping triple somersaults on a variety of trapezes by a 12-person strong Russian troupe to Ray and Rudy Navas on the famous "Wheel of Death."
Scenically, the show will use a cameo-size video screen and also take full advantage of the Hall's "flying" 90' X 40' LED screen. As usual, music will play a prominent role in the show. Girard describes the score by Nick Littlemore as "an acrobatic rock opera."
"What is Zarkana?" says Laliberte. "In my own simple terms, I'd describe it as circus on steroids."