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September 20, 2014

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Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Zarkana’ replacing ‘Viva Elvis’ at Aria

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Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil’s “Zarkana.”

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Cirque du Soleil's "Zarkana."

Zarkana

Zarkana

Zarkana

Viva Elvis Blue Carpet @Aria

The blue carpet for the Viva Elvis world premiere at Aria in CityCenter on Feb. 19, 2010. Launch slideshow »

The King is leaving the building, and instead of the blue suede shoes of “Viva Elvis” at Aria, Vegas DeLuxe bids a warm welcome to “Zarkana.” The new Cirque du Soleil show premieres at Aria on Nov. 8, and Elvis will sing his rock and roll farewell Aug. 18. The first preview performances of “Zarkana” begin Oct. 25.

Updated at 3:07 p.m.: “Zarkana” is a modern rock opera already seen by more than 1 million people. Last year at Radio City Music Hall in New York, it sold 550,000 tickets; in Madrid, Spain, 300,000 tickets; and currently at the Kremlin Theater in Russia, 330,000 tickets. The show returns to Radio City Music Hall at the end of May and ends its run there Sept. 3.

The cast and crew of “Viva Elvis” will load out of the Elvis Theater on Aug. 19, and the load in of “Zarkana” begins after the scenery and equipment arrive from New York after traveling cross-country as of Sept. 4.

Cirque officials met with “Viva Elvis” cast and crew this afternoon. “Our priority today is to deploy the cast of that show among our other 21 shows,” Cirque President and CEO Daniel Lamarre told me.

The decision to bring in “Zarkana” firmed up last fall when MGM’s CityCenter chieftain Bobby Baldwin saw the show in New York. “I think before the intermission, he had made up his mind,” said MGM PR chief Alan Feldman.

But it took a global conference call among the MGM CityCenter partners, including bankers in Dubai World, to agree Tuesday night. Discussions began at 8 p.m., and by 8:30 p.m., the conference call wrapped with everybody in agreement that “Zarkana” move in to replace “Viva Elvis.”

“Zarkana” has been reviewed by the New York Post as “truly spectacular, awe-inspiring, gorgeous and stunning.”

“It is unlike any Cirque show in Las Vegas,” Daniel told me. “It’s a sure bet. We are sad that ‘Elvis’ ends, but we are happy that MGM trusts us to bring in our ultimate, best show. It fits beautifully with the modern architecture of CityCenter. It fits with the young target group staying at Aria.

“The beautiful thing is we have to do nothing. We have to build nothing. There’s only two inches of difference between the Aria stage and the Radio City Music Hall stage, so everything fits perfectly."

“Zarkana,” with 75 international artists, has music by Nick Littlemore, a protege of Sir Elton John, who wrote the theme song. Bill McBeath, Aria’s president, commented: “We look forward to welcoming the cast and crew of ‘Zarkana.’ We’re certain they will love their new home, and we’re equally certain that audiences from around the world will be wowed by this incredible production.”

Daniel summed up: “I told you over the weekend that we had three options: a brand new show altogether; ‘Zed,’ which had to close in Japan because of the earthquake; and ‘Zarkana.’ We didn’t want to let MGM down. It was not our original intent to bring in ‘Zarkana,’ but once we knew they were impressed with the show, I held off with booking it anywhere else. The only place it was set to travel to for a while after New York was Mexico, and that has now gone by the board."

“ ‘Zarkana’ is the perfect size and scope for the beautiful Aria theater.”

We’ll have our full interview with Daniel and photos from “Zarkana” tomorrow, so please be sure to check back.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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