Cirque du Soleil’s DELIRIUM

Wed. January 24, 2007 12:00 AM
by Feature Column

Favored Frenzy:
Cirque du Soleil's DELIRIUM hits Chicago during international tour

By Michael Snell

2007 is destined for DELIRIUM—a monumental live music concert evolved from the Cirque du Soleil circuit. For the first time in Cirque history, the famed traveling acrobatics company's DELIRIUM puts singers on center stage, with their music as the driving force behind a gigantic presentation.

Driven by urban tribal beats and awe-inspiring visuals, DELIRIUM's multimedia/theatrical production features existing Cirque music remixes and reinterpretations of past performances. Lyrics have been created for the instrumental tracks, with real words integrated in place of invented languages, adding plot structure and giving the music a fresh poetic dimension. Five hundred forty feet of visual projections—the equivalent of almost four IMAX screens—create the colossal multimedia presentation with images ranging from prerecorded visuals to manipulated live feeds. Musicians, singers and acrobatic dancers, as well as classic Cirque du Soleil aerial feats transform the arena into a joyous delirious sensory frenzy—hence the delirium. But it's a well-received crazy; The New York Times calls the show an “enveloping, hallucinatory splendor!” The Boston Globe says it's “a surreal delirious delight!”

“This show is so big and so different, it's a whole different scale for Cirque and it really does have more of a rock concert feel,” explained DELIRIUM Artistic Director James Hadley. “It's like a big dance party! There are huge video images being projected onto the big screens that the performers are interacting with as well as live images beings shot with cameramen on and near the stage, so everyone feels apart of the show. There are even characters throughout the arena getting people involved.”

This unique, large-scale event may be the most massive technical production ever created to tour arenas. DELIRIUM requires enough equipment as two mega rock concerts. Twenty 18-wheel trailers transport the technical equipment from arena to arena. Fourteen tour buses transport the artists and the crew of 145 people, which includes 45 artists, 75 technicians and 25 management and artistic support personnel.

Performers stay fresh by limiting performances to only 3-4 times per week. However it's not as easy as simply performing a couple hours a day, travel the world and get paid. Most performers rehearse and/or workout 6-7 hours per day.

“We travel with a small gym and have cardio machines for the performers to use during the day,” adds Hadley. “We also travel with a full catering company who prepare healthy meals for everyone. We even travel with our own physical therapy department, so we have everything we need at each arena.”

The extravagant show hits Chicago for three nights, February 17-19, at the United Center, with a fourth show matinee added on Sunday, February 18, due to the rapid selling of tickets.

DELIRIUM will wrap up its North America tour in July before heading to Europe, Asia and Australia.