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Banana Shpeel

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Creative Team


Foot Juggling
Tap Duo
Hand to Hand
Hat Juggling
Modern Dance
Tap Routine




Évolution & Visuals

One of Cirque du Soleil's long-standing dreams (and goals) was to established a lasting presence in the Big Apple, and succeeded on a seasonal basis with Wintuk in 2007. The company thought a more permanent presence was well on its way when it signed a re-development deal with Related Companies to establish a home on Manhattan's Pier 40, which fell through (the Pier is now being used for children's sports). With that possibility quashed, Cirque would bide its time and continue to look for a space to endure in New York City. Eventually that would come. "In February 2010, Cirque plans to bring a new show to the Beacon Theater in Manhattan for a multiple-month run that it hopes will become an annual institution," The New York Times reported. "And in 2011 Cirque is to establish a four-month summer extravaganza in Radio City Music Hall a s a warm-weather counterweight to the 'Christmas Spectacular' - sans Rockettes, but populated with acrobats and clowns. These will be in addition to the company’s touring tent productions [...]. Also continuing will be "Wintuk," Cirque’s $20 million annual winter holiday show at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden." What would this new show for MSG Entertainment entail? While details about the show itself were not released with the announcement, where else these shows might play sounded quite interesting. [The] still-unnamed show for Radio City Music Hall, "will fully utilize the space and spend half of each year in Paris or London," and have 72 to 80 performers, said Mr. Laliberté.

[ ÉvolutionVisuals ]

A New Twist on Vaudeville?

    While rumors had been circulating the fan-circuit for a number of weeks/months, other media outlets began to pick up on the potential of Cirque du Soleil re-inventing vaudeville, much like the company re-invented the circus years ago. Variety reported that the “new stage production [would] reportedly be written by Laurence O’Keefe (“Legally Blonde”), although Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which owns the Beacon, would only confirm that for one of several shows being developed by Cirque, David Shiner (also helmer of Cirque’s “Kooza”) [was] at work on a new offering about vaudeville, with a cast of 50 to 55. No venues or dates were announced. [The show was rumored to open] at the Chicago Theater in Chicago [from Nov 19 to Dec 31 2010] before it [went] to Gotham for a multiple-month run at the Beacon Theater.”

    On September 9, 2009, Cirque du Soleil announced its “Vaudeville” concept to the world as:

      BANANA SHPEEL, a roller-coaster mix of styles that blends comedy with tap, hip hop, eccentric dance and slapstick, all linked by a hilarious narrative that ignites a succession of wacky adventures. This is not circus, or a musical or a variety show, or even vaudeville. It is Banana Shpeel, created by: Serge Roy (director of creation), Jean-Francois Cote (composer/musical director), Jared Grimes (choreographer), Dominique Lemieux (costumes), Patricia Ruel (sets), Bruno Rafile (lighting), and Harvey Robitale (sound).

      Propelled by crazy humour and intense choreography, Banana Shpeel plunges us into the world of Shmelky, a cruel and irritable producer who dangles fame and fortune in front of Emmett, an innocent and romantic actor who has come to audition for him. Emmett soon finds himself trapped in a flamboyant, anarchic world where Shmelky sows terror and reigns supreme. Emmett falls in love with the beautiful Katie and meets a bunch of absurd characters, including the strange Banana Man.

      The show’s cast featured Annaleigh Ashford, Michael Longoria, Claudio Caneiro, Daniel Passer, Patrick de Valette, Gordon White, Wayne Wilson, Dmitry Bulkin, Tuan Le, Vanessa Alvarez, and Joseph and Josette Wiggan, along with Robyn Baltzer, Alex Ellis, DeWitt Fleming, Jr., Luke Hawkins, Kathleen Hennessey, Adrienne Reed, Anthony J. Russo, Melissa Schott, and Steven T. Williams.

    "Vaudeville doesn't exist anymore, but, as you know, it was huge," Daniel Lamarre says of the eclectic variety shows that were once the most popular form of entertainment in North America - before film, the Great Depression and television killed them off. "This format has giant potential if a creative team can bring it to today's world."

    But who was this mysterious Banana Man and how would Emmett escape the clutches of Shmelky and his henchmen?

    Audiences were about to find out...

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