How do you transport an entire Cirque du Soleil production from arena to arena and across provinces, countries and even over oceans?
The answer is a lot of planning and a lot of packing.
Cirque du Soleil’s OVO is on its way to Prince George and is set to take over the CN Centre and transform it into a high-calibre circus venue within hours.
The show specifically takes 20 trucks which includes 19 trucks full of everything needed to make the show happen and one truck for catering.
“Everything you are seeing we are bringing with us,” said Caitlin Madden, Cirque du Soleil OVO’s production stage manager.
“We have to break it down and we have to fit it into a semi-truck or fit it into something smaller than that because it has to be able to fit on a plane. It has to be able to fit through double-sized doors. All of this stuff has to break down into a very certain set of dimensions to get into a building and we do it every single week.”
A touring Cirque du Soleil show is like a moving city.
The show carries about 100 people from 25 different countries and that includes everyone from artists, to technicians, management, and everything in between.
“I have a full truck dedicated to just the costumes. I have another truck dedicated only to wardrobe which includes six washing machines and two dryers,” said Madden, who has been with Cirque since 2015 and previously toured with Broadway musicals.
“We’ve got catering, laundry, accountants, and we carry a full gym. We carry the stage the audio equipment and the video equipment and the automation equipment, the carpentry, the sets — everything you see and so much more.”
Cirque du Soleil also hires about a 100 extra people just to help unload the show once it arrives at an arena and can assemble everything within eight to 10 hours.
The team assembles the stage, pre-rigs, audio equipment and everything needed to make the show happen and then every extra nook and cranny of the arena becomes spaces for costumes, make-up, props or gym space so the artists can train before the performances.
Madden said the CN Centre in Prince George will be one of the trickier venues to unpack.
The original Cirque du Soleil OVO announcement had to be delayed in Prince George so Cirque could send a rigging expert to CN Centre to make sure the show could fit given the building's low ceiling.
The CN Centre got the green light however CN Centre Entertainment manager Glen Mikkelsen said some adjustments will have to be made like removing some lighting fixtures and taking down the central digital ring which hangs below the score clock.
“We never want you to see us, but we have to so much fun doing what we do and want to share it, but we never want you to see it,” said Madden of the crew that makes the magic of OVO happen.
“She noted that when mishaps happen or difficult venues can be frustrating at times, the reward is getting to hear the audience once everything comes together and performers take the stage.
“They come and they see these guys jumping off the wall and that is nothing they’ve ever seen and there are people who don’t realize that stuff like that exists, or that women can do it or that someone of any size or shape can do it, and getting to hear the kids and see that reaction – that erases the times when you think ‘oh why won’t this thing fit together!’ Why won’t it work,” said Madden.
“That is why we keep doing it and that is our refreshing moment getting to hear those laughs and the big gasp of air because ‘is he going to catch her for sure?’ that is my favourite part.”
OVO will perform in Prince George at the CN Centre from June 30 – July 3 for seven performances.