Last night, I got to cross another item off my bucket list: I finally caught my first live performance of Cirque du Soleil.
I’m kind of ashamed it has taken me this long: Cirque has been performing on and off in Los Angeles since 1984, when it made its US debut at that year’s LA Arts Festival. I was busy. And broke. And that has been my excuse for the last three decades.
I only attended last night’s performance of Iris because we received an email deal last month, announcing tickets at 40% off. We later learned that the production is closing its doors for good on January 19th, after more than a year in residence at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. I’m glad we got in to see it just under the wire. And I’m sad we won’t be able to see this production again.
I was expecting to be wowed by the troupe’s display of acrobatic prowess, and I was not disappointed. What absolutely amazed me was how fitting this production was to its Hollywood location.
Iris is a tribute to the motion picture industry that put Hollywood on the map. The show was a valentine to the movies, going back to classics of the silent era and brought back memories of productions I studied back when I was a teenage film geek.
Graphics projected above the proscenium recalled the earliest of early silents, beginning with Eadweard Muybridge‘s serial still shots of a horse in motion and continuing on to the moon from the first science fiction movie, Georges Melies’ Voyage to the Moon, with state-of-the art special effects, circa 1902.
It is also fitting that the Dolby Theatre — home to the Academy Awards — is housed in the Hollywood & Highland shopping center, which took design elements from the set of DW Griffith’s 1916 masterpiece Intolerance. That set stood for over three years on the corner of Sunset and Virgil (where the Vista Theater is now).
Those visual cues definitely added to my enjoyment of Iris, but them wasn’t necessary to appreciate what the Cirque folks created. At least, not if you ask my husband and daughter, who were just as entranced by the show without making those connections.
A note to folks attending a Saturday matinee at the Dolby: It’s a good idea to make dinner reservations in Hollywood ahead of time. Frankly, it has been such a long time since we’ve been out to dinner on a Saturday night that it never occurred to me to do so, and all of the restaurants in the Hollywood and Highland complex were packed. We decided to explore the Boulevard and ended up at Musso and Frank’s, which has been around since 1919 and was a hangout for luminaries of Hollywood’s golden age, like Charlie Chaplin and Humphrey Bogart — as well as literary giants like Faulkner, Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The interior of the restaurant is all dark wood, red leather booths and old-timey wallpaper, and the menu has barely changed in 90 years of operation — except for the prices, which are high. The place was just as busy as the others we had tried, but we could not think of a more fitting way to end an evening celebrating old Hollywood.