Three days before Off-Broadway's De La Guarda reaches its third anniversary, the aerial, physical and fantastical show will add a new segment that's being advertised as "Higher, Louder, Wetter."
According to a production spokesperson, the six-minute bit will end the evening and be "a very new, high-flying segment" with "new music, new lights, new thrills for the audience." The rest of the show will remain as is, with no sequences deleted to make room for the addition.
De La Guarda turns three years old at the Daryl Roth Theatre June 16. The performance piece, created in Argentina, started previews June 11, 1998, and, more than 1,200 performances later, remains a draw for hip downtown crowds who don't mind being lifted into the air, splashed with water and being generally made part of the overall spectacle.
The show has certainly meant beginner's luck for its home, Off-Broadway being the first and still-only production to be done there. Producer Roth announced her plans to convert the landmarked American Savings Bank at 20 Union Square East into a 499-seat, Off-Broadway theatre in fall 1997. But she halted construction when she was approached by the producers of De La Guarda, who were searching for a space wherein the unique show could unfold. The empty, spacious bank seemed just right.
Roth said at the time that the theatre is currently little more than a large, open area, measuring 50 by 100 feet, bordered by large windows, and with a marble floor underfoot. There are no fixed seats, but that's no problem. The audience for Guarda is required to stand while they watch the performers lower themselves down by rope and cable. Performances take place entirely in the air. There is music, but no words. Roth described the piece's nature as being along the lines of the Cirque du Soleil, Stomp, and Blue Man Group. Up to 499 people can attend the show each night. Meanwhile, the venue also boasts a 99-eat space "Little Theatre." Producer Roth most recently produced Jane Anderson's Defying Gravity at The American Place Theatre. Her other credits include How I Learned to Drive, Old Wicked Songs, and Three Tall Women.
De La Guarda can now be added to the growing group of popular shows that have added or changed sequences during their runs. Fosse, which just announced a Sept. 1 closing date, has occasionally tailored its musical numbers to suit such guest performers as Ben Vereen; a few months ago, Les Miserables shaved 15 minutes off its running time to save union costs and tighten up the show; and Blue Man Group has tinkered with its format (as well as creating a new show for its Las Vegas mounting.
For information on De La Guarda, call (212) 239-6200.
— By David Lefkowitz