Cirque du Soleil Turns Big Top Into Enchanted Forest for 'Totem' Opening

By Lauren Matthews March 25, 2013, 1:38 PM EDT

As guests exited the big top after the finale, they were met by two Cirque performers dressed in nature-inspired costumes, standing atop a structure composed of wooden slats.

Photo: Nadia Chaudhury/BizBash

Cirque du Soleil's 'Totem' Opening
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Cirque du Soleil’s current touring production, Totem, had its official New York premiere on March 14. Unlike the blowout world-premiere party for Zarkana in 2011, Totem has been touring since 2010, so the after-party was a bit more understated—and the entire audience was invited. “Because it was a local premiere, we wanted to celebrate with the local community,” said Francis Jalbert, a publicist for Cirque du Soleil. The limited-engagement run of Totem is being staged inside the Canadian entertainment company’s signature big top, also known as the Grand Chapiteau, set up in Lot C at Citi Field. After the show’s finale, the audience streamed out of the big top into the main concession area for the after-party.

To create an extension of the show’s nature-focused visuals for the celebration, Cirque’s internal events team tapped Vincent Reverdy of Connected Productions to transform the concession area into an enchanted forest between intermission and the end of the show. With only five days to present and execute a concept, Reverdy said that his main challenge was that the design had to be created in a way that allowed his team to install the bulk of the decor in under an hour. “The concept was designed around the idea that nature was taking over the tented space while the audience was watching the second half of the show,” said Reverdy. “Because the space is large, the decor had to be monumental in order to be effective.”

Earlier in the day, Connected Productions was able to set up large installations composed of wood slats; during intermission the production team erected additional wooden structures to create a sort of extended garland of wooden slats that traveled throughout the tented space. Additionally, Reverdy and his staff draped the area with Spanish moss, ivy, and LED twinkle lights. To extend the theme, the production team also integrated costumed performers and painted staffers’ faces with tribal motifs and placed ivy wreaths atop their heads.

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