The show presented this summer under the big blue and white tent is not its first visit to Montreal. Indeed, Kooza had its world premiere there in 2007. Since then, it has visited around twenty countries and was seen by 8 million spectators before being put on hiatus due to the pandemic in March 2020.
“It’s a legendary show,” says Stéphane Lefebvre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.
Why not introduce something new as has often been the case in the past? “With the pandemic, we didn’t have that luxury. So we turned to a show from our inventory,” replies Stéphane Lefebvre. A decision that did not put off the spectators: so far, more than 100,000 tickets have been sold.
This show, whose original staging was signed by David Shiner, brings together an impressive cast of 51 artists.
“I want people to feel that power,” says Jennifer Lécuyer, artistic director of Kooza. This force was palpable during the numbers presented to the media on Tuesday. The teeterboard number alone brings together 19 acrobats, some of whom find themselves thrown, stilts at their feet, some 9 meters above the stage! The unicycle duo also has something to give spectators a cold sweat, with its succession of balance and acrobatic figures on wheels. As for the number of straps, it emanated an irresistible feminine force, all carried by a resolutely rock music.
“In Kooza, the acrobatics are most impressive, but there is also a very touching story,” adds Jennifer Lécuyer. There is a character called Innocent, who brings a sweetness to the stage. We see it unfolding before our eyes. The artistic and acrobatic aspects of the circus are well anchored. »
Kooza is a cover, of course, but don’t think that the show has been frozen in time for 15 years, explains Jennifer Lécuyer. “The show evolves with the acrobats. The latter are always looking for a new, more advanced acrobatic element to add on stage. They have a constant desire to improve…” Over the years, some numbers have changed; others have been added. Six acrobats or musicians are there to testify: they have been part of the original cast of Kooza since day one.
Cédric Bélisle, who grew up in Ottawa, has worked at Cirque du Soleil for 13 years, but this will be the first time that the interpreter of Innocent will take the stage in Montreal. “I feel so blessed to finally be able to play here. I still remember the first Cirque du Soleil show I saw in Montreal: it was Dralion, I was 12 years old. I was in tears at the end of the show. In 2007, when I was in a group of trampolinists, I left Ottawa to come see Kooza in the Old Port. I was touched by the story, which is very simple, but with which everyone can identify. Today, it is a dream to be able to play this show in Montreal. I feel like my childish heart is going to explode! »
The character of Innocent serves as a common thread in the show, says Cédric Bélisle. “Initially, he is a solitary and melancholy character. He is looking for his place in the world. By coming into contact with the other characters, he will find a confidence in himself…”
Kooza marks the return of Cirque du Soleil to the Old Port, but not only. It is the first of a series of 10 shows that will be presented in the shadow of the Clock Tower. Indeed, the Cirque has entered into an agreement with the Old Port to offer one show per summer for the next 10 years. “It will be creations or classics of the Circus”, indicates Stéphane Lefebvre.