The Cirque du Soleil people promise that "Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities" will be different from their usual productions.
"We love doing the shows, but sometimes some of the things are a little predictable," admits Michel Laprise, the show's Quebec-based creative director. "Everything that was a habit or that we did simply because we were comfortable with it, I took out. We were often outside of our comfort zone, which is great."
So forget about the large turntables and trapdoors that are signature staging techniques for Cirque's shows (21 productions currently up worldwide) when "Kurios" plays a Big Top tent Dec. 10-Jan. 29 outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. The show, featuring athletic and acrobatic derring-do, is framed as an invisible place of otherworldly characters that are hidden away inside a curio cabinet.
"People can relate to it," says Laprise, who wrote and directed the human circus. "And we decided to lower the stage ... so there is eye contact between the audience and the acts. We don't have any traps. We came up with other ways to have the characters enter. The music, it's swing music, but electric swing ... and we made it with other styles in it."
And the audience could begin to hear some of that score even before the show begins. Weather permitting, three artists will climb onto the Big Top and play music and interact with the audience as they file into the tent.
"We really worked hard on that, like for a year, with all the safety protocols," explains Laprise, who also directed Madonna in 2012 for her Super Bowl halftime show and her MDNA tour. "It's a challenge we put to ourselves. Let me tell you, it's like the Americans putting a man on the moon in the '60s. After 30 years [of Cirque productions], can we take it back to the streets."
Laprise's script loosely ties together 12 acts that include comedy, contortions, aerial bicycling and yo-yoing.
"It's the story of a man who builds a machine to travel to a different dimension," Laprise says. "The machine malfunctions and brings people from another dimension to his world. Things that are usually small are bigger, and things that are usually bigger are smaller. There's an upside-down element we play with. It just makes you feel like a child, the way children look at their environment and the world around them."
Laprise says he set the story in the second half of the 19th century because "a lot of new inventions were happening then. And all those inventions made people believe anything was possible. The telegraph, the gramophone, the electric light bulb, the railways made people feel that magic could be in their everyday lives, that anything was possible."
But he is quick to point out that this show (Cirque's 35th since the franchise started in 1984) also has more accessible characters than most Cirque shows, possibly including the two as-yet-unveiled productions he is working on now.
"We have a lot of characters that are human and that you can relate to," he says. "It's a world that is very warm ... The set is wood and copper, so there are these warm colors. We also have, not by accident, things like chairs, tables, sofas — everyday things that you can relate to that are used in the acts. We chose to do that so that when you go back to your house or flat, you would look at something simple, like a chair, in a different way."
"Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities" runs Dec. 10-Jan. 29 at Hard Rock Stadium, 347 Don Shula Drive, in Miami Gardens. Showtimes vary. Tickets cost $39-$275 (premium VIP Package includes a backstage visit before the show, a cocktail party before and during intermission, private restrooms and a meet and greet after the show). To order, call 877-924-7783 or go to CirqueDuSoleil.com/Kurios.