Travel Squibs: ‘Zarkana’ Maintains the Cirque du Soleil Tradition

Zarkana, Cirque du Soleil’s standing production at the Aria Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, took the place of Cirque’s discontinued Viva Elvis – and the two productions couldn’t have been more distinct stylistically.

The rock n’ roll themed Viva Elvis was Cirque’s most lighthearted and fun production going away. More of a traditional Vegas stage show with plenty of Cirque du Soleil elements, the Presley pageant might’ve been too Cirque for Elvis fans, and too Elvis for Cirque fans. Of course, Viva Elvis was my favorite Cirque outing. So, naturally, it was doomed to fail.

The production ran in New York City originally before heading to Vegas and settling at the Aria long term. The highlights of the production include the high wire and vocal performance of The Spider Lady as she keeps a few acrobats in her web.

I preferred the Snake Lady number as another talented vocalist belted out a crazed anthem atop a mound of (simulated) writhing serpents. The production is sometimes macabre and surprisingly dark — more so than any other Cirque du Soleil production outside of the magic-themed Believe

Since it produces so many shows all around the world, Cirque du Soleil must try some new angles along the way. Said Angle for Zarkana is brief forays into horror with hints of humor and romance. Though the show returns to Cirque’s roots of acrobatics, dance and music successfully, I hope the production and design team back in Montreal doesn’t forget the pure fun vibe it laid down in the days of Viva Elvis.