The 2016-17 Broadway season gets underway May 25 when Paramour, Cirque du Soleil's first-ever made-for-Broadway musical, opens at the Lyric Theatre. The acrobatic show began previews April 16.
Jeremy Kushnier plays A.J., the director; Ryan Vona plays Joey, the composer and A.J.'s rival. Kushnier left the Off-Broadway production of Shear Madness to replace original lead actor Bradley Dean earlier this spring. Vona played Andrej in Once on Broadway.
They join Ruby Lewis, who has appeared in national tours of Gypsy, Grease, Jersey Boys and We Will Rock You, who is making her Broadway debut in Paramour's lead lady role. She has appeared in Cirque du Soleil’s For The Record: BAZ, a post-modern cabaret inspired by the films of director Baz Luhrmann.
Paramour, according to press notes, “spins the thrilling tale of a beautiful young actress forced to choose between love and art in the glamorous world of Golden Age Hollywood. Featuring eye-popping acrobatics and sumptuous music and dance, [the production] is a groundbreaking new event that will transport you to a sublime world of emotion and awe as it walks the exhilarating tightrope of the heart.”
The company features a cast of 38 singers, actors, dancers and internationally renowned aerialists, acrobats and circus arts performers: Bret Shuford, Sarah Meahl, Kat Cunning,Tom Ammirati, Chelsey Arce, Andrew Atherton, Kevin Atherton, Lee Brearley, Yanelis Brooks, Samuel William Charlton, Martin Charrat, Nate Cooper, Myriam Deraiche, Kyle Driggs, Jeremias Faganel, Amber Brooke Fulljames, Steven Trumon Gray, Tomasz Jadach, Rafal Kaszubowski, Justin Keats, Reed Kelly, Denis Kibenko, Joe McAdam, Raven McRae, Amber J. Merrick, Sheridan Mouawad, Amber Pickens, Justin Prescott, Fletcher Blair Sanchez, Matthieu Sennacherib, Blakely Slaybaugh, Sam Softich, Amiel Soicher, Amber van Wijk, Bruce Weber, Tomasz Wilkosz, Zhengqi Xia (Da Qi).
The cast and creative team represent 13 different countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Belarus, Canada, China, Cuba, France, Poland, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States), spanning five continents. The production is claiming that this is the most internationally diverse production to originate on Broadway.
Press notes describe Paramour as "a landmark production for Cirque du Soleil, blending the best of Broadway with Cirque du Soleil’s signature style, to provide a new experience for both traditional Broadway musical theatre goers and Cirque du Soleil’s fans. The show will have many of the elements beloved on Broadway: a book-driven love story narrative, live musicians, and professional actors in lead roles; but with the Cirque du Soleil aesthetic integrated throughout the show: visionary production design on a grand scale, world class entertainment, and acrobatic feats that defy the imagination."
Paramour is directed by French stage director and choreographer Philippe Decouflé. Five-time Grammy Award nominee and two-time Emmy Award winner Andreas Carlsson is co-composer with the team of Bob & Bill (a.k.a. Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard). Carlsson wrote the show's title song.
Carlsson has written for The Backstreet Boys, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Celine Dion, Ricky Martin, Katy Perry, Leann Rimes, Britney Spears and Carrie Underwood. In 2001 he won the ASCAP Songwriter of The Year Award as the most-performed pop writer on radio that year. Paramour, the story of a young poet in Hollywood, marks his debut as a Broadway songwriter.
The rest of the creative team includes team includes West Hyler (associate creative director and scene director), Shana Carroll (associate creative director and acrobatic designer & choreographer), Pascale Henrot (associate creative director), Jean Rabasse (set designer), Philippe Guillotel (costume designer), Daphné Mauger (choreographer), Verity Studios (flying machine design & choreography), Patrice Besombes (lighting designer), Olivier Simola & Christophe Waksmann (projection designers), John Shivers (sound designer), Boris Verkhovsky (acrobatic performance designer), Pierre Masse (rigging and acrobatic equipment designer), Nathalie Gagné (makeup designer), Anne‐Séguin Poirier (props designer), Josh Marquette (hair design), Cirque du Soleil (casting – Montreal), Telsey + Co (casting – New York), Seth Stachowski (music director and band leader), and Jayna Neagle (executive producer).
Tickets for Paramour are on sale via Ticketmaster.com or by calling (877) 250-2929. Ticket prices range $55-$145 (all prices include a $2.50 facility fee). For more information on Paramour visit ParamourOnBroadway.com.
Founded in 1980 as a dance troupe, Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun) has had spectacular success internationally with its touring New Vaudeville-style circus shows, including Dralion, Saltimbanco, Quidam and Zarkana, and with specialty shows like Viva Elvis! and Michael Jackson: One in Las Vegas. In New York the shows have generally played at Radio City Music Hall and sometimes in a big-top tent set up on Randall’s Island in the East River. For two years the Tony Awards had to vacate Radio City because Cirque had booked the theatre for the entire month of June. Cirque du Soleil Theatrical is also scheduled to produce the Broadway revival of The Wiz, also planned for 2016-17.
One of its few misfires was a vaudeville-influenced show, Banana Shpeel, which played a cut-short five weeks at New York's Beacon Theatre in 2011.
The company was recently sold to a private equity group, though the Broadway project appears to have been in the planning stages long before the sale.
(Updated May 25, 2016)