As Dubai’s only resident theatre extravaganza, La Perle, celebrates its first year anniversary, we discover what’s new, how to learn to expect the unexpected, and what the future holds for the show inspired by Dubai.
La Perle is a breathtaking fusion of artistic performance, creative imagery and ground-breaking technology. Created by Franco Dragone, the man credited with bringing contemporary circus into mainstream entertainment via Cirque du Soleil, this 85 minute performance combines death-defying acrobatic stunts with outrageous costumes, technical wizardry and constant action. Based around a central pool of water, a dream-like plot and a host of larger-than-life characters, the part-circus, part-theatre show is all-encompassing and quite unforgettable.
Andy Levey has a dream job. As Head of Marketing for Al Habtoor City-based production, he’s responsible for ensuring the thousands of guests passing through the purpose-built theatre every week have a fantastic time. Here, he provides the inside track on Dragone’s artistic masterpiece.
What’s new at La Perle?
Levey: In May, La Perle’s Artistic Director, Franco Dragone, held another “Creation” session for two weeks, where he formulated new elements of the show through enhanced acts and scenes and evolved the show from start to finish. One of the main new highlights of the show is the thrilling new ending, which leaves the audience on their feet. Whether it’s your first time seeing La Perle or your 20th, you’ll always see something new as the show is like a living organism. Every performance is different based on our stellar performers - and that’s one of the many things that makes it so fantastic.
What should a first-time visitor expect? And will someone who first visited a year ago see a different show today?
Levey: A first-time visitor should expect the unexpected and prepare to be transported into another world where magic happens twice a night, five nights a week. As soon as you walk into the theatre it takes your breath away. When the lights go down and the 360 degree projections light up every surface, it has to be seen to be believed. From there, you are taken on a wonderful journey where worlds collide and technology fuses with tradition to produce this masterpiece. There are moments where you’ll feel happy, sad, joyful and even a little scared at times, but you’ll always leave on a high, wanting more. If you want a really immersive experience, I recommend you sit on the front rows, they’re our “mist zones”, where you’re likely to get a little wet!
For someone visiting from a year ago, I recommend sitting in a different seat. You’ll experience the show from a completely new perspective. There’s so much to see on stage happening that you can’t see everything at once - you have to come back time after time!
We have an amazing cast of 65 world-class artists, some of whom have been with us from the start, some who have joined us along the road. Each one brings a new vibrancy and experience to the show and their own unique character and flair.
How long are the acrobatic stunts practiced for? They look terrifying, but so slick!
Levey: A usual training day for an artist starts around 2pm, where we have an open warm-up in the rehearsal room. Each performer then has a schedule tailored to them, their discipline and what’s happening that evening. Whether they are rehearsing a new act, strength training, evolving scenes or learning a new skill that will possibly be incorporated into the show, their days are action-packed.
Acts such as the Wheel and Globe are performed by artists who have been doing these stunts for many years, and come from long-standing circus families. They rehearse their acts a few times a week, to ensure everything is as safe and as practised as possible.
We are keen to have a go at some of the incredible action we’ve seen - will you ever introduce a theatre/circus school?
Levey: At La Perle, we really want to build a performance community. As the first resident show in the region, we’re leading the way for others to follow and we’re always looking at ways we can encourage more people to join the performing arts. We currently run a La Perle Kids’ Day once a month for the cast and crew’s children, so they can learn basic circus skills. This is something we’d eventually like to roll out to the public, so watch this space!
What's next for La Perle?
Levey: La Perle’s one year anniversary falls on 13 September 2018. It’s a huge milestone and we can’t wait to celebrate all our successes. It will also be a time of reflection, looking at what we can improve in the future. Following this, we’ll be continually updating the show, making exciting changes and ensuring that every night the audience leaves saying “wow”.
Images via La Perle
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