The winter-themed, acrobat-filled, spectacle-infused world premiere will run through Jan. 6, 2008, with annual return visits planned. In recent years, the venue found holiday-season success with productions of A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan and Annie. The show hopes to compete with other family-friendly holiday theatricals that pop up annually in Manhattan — for example, Broadway's How the Grinch Stole Christmas or the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
Cirque du Soleil, MSG Entertainment and BASE Entertainment are producing Wintuk, which has been designed exclusively for the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden — billed as Cirque du Soleil's first permanent address in New York for a show presented outside the Big Top. Additionally, Wintuk will be the first Cirque du Soleil show created specifically for a family audience, and the first Cirque du Soleil production to be built around a specific premise: the theme of winter.
Wintuk is "the enchanting winter tale of one boy's quest to find snow and adventure."
"This is a real first for MSG Entertainment and Cirque du Soleil," stated Jay Marciano, president, MSG Entertainment. "The debut of Wintuk this holiday season marks the first time that these world-class entertainment companies will unite to present a Cirque du Soleil production, created exclusively for the [WaMu] Theater at Madison Square Garden. Premiering only in New York, we look forward to entertaining audiences with Wintuk throughout the holidays for the next several years."
According to MSG, "Wintuk is an enchanting winter tale about a boy named Wintuk and his quest to find snow and adventure. Wintuk lives in a city where the arrival of winter has brought long shadows and intense cold — but no snow! He interacts with an extraordinary cast of high-energy urban street characters, including acrobats, dancers and talking marionettes. But when the snow does not arrive, he embarks on a quest with three companions — a female shaman who's lost in the city, a shy man destined to discover his courage, and the shadow of a young girl — to find the snow and bring it back to where it belongs." The adventurers journey to an imaginary Arctic — a world without sunlight — "where they encounter the rich culture of the People of the North and extraordinary giant characters made of ice." When at last the sun returns, "they fly home on the wings of a giant crane and generate a swirling snowstorm."
A cast of 50 performers "weaves thrilling circus arts, breathtaking theatrical effects and memorable songs into a meaningful seasonal story that resonates with the whole family."
"This new creative challenge for Cirque du Soleil is very inspiring," stated Gilles Ste-Croix, Cirque's senior vice president of creative content. "Creating a new show based on a family-oriented storyline and theme has made us look at different artistic forms. We're using large-scale puppetry and transforming traditional acrobatic numbers into fun and games experienced from a child's perspective. We really hope Wintuk's tale will create a sense of child-like wonderment in the audience."
This new production marks the first time director Richard Blackburn has worked with Cirque du Soleil. Blackburn is a theatrical creator, playwright, director and actor-manager. His shows are probably best known for combining actors with oversized marionettes and sets, and integrating a wide variety of multimedia techniques into his productions. In 1979 he became the artistic director of Le Théâtre de la Dame de Coeur (TDC) in Upton, Quebec. Richard has also worked on overseas assignments with TDC, notably in Singapore for the opening ceremonies of Esplanade Theatres on the Bay in 2002 and as part of Expo 2005 in Japan.
Director of Creation Fernand Rainville has worked in Quebec theatre as a distinguished actor and director since 1985. In addition to his long list of stage credits, Fernand co-directed the bilingual Montreal production of Les Misérables and has worked extensively in television. He also co-directed the opening ceremonies of the Montreal 2005 - XI FINA World Championships and created and directed the Cirque-produced pre-game show at the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.
For tickets, visit thegarden.com and Ticketmaster.com or call (212) 307-1000. Prices range from $30-$99.
From a group of 20 street performers at its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil is now a major Quebec-based entertainment organization with over 3,500 employees from over 40 different countries, including 900 artists.
Cirque du Soleil's work has been seen by 60 million spectators in over 100 cities on four continents. In 2007, Cirque du Soleil will present 14 shows simultaneously throughout the world. The company has received such prestigious awards as the Emmy, Drama Desk, Bambi, ACE, Gémeaux, Félix, and Rose d'Or de Montreux. Cirque du Soleil International Headquarters are in Montreal, Canada.
For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com.