Cirque du Soleil resumes show in Hangzhou after 130-day hiatus
After an ardent wait of more than 130 days, Mathieu Chouinard, a circus performer, finally returned to the stage as the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil recommenced its resident show in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.
"We are really excited to perform in front of audiences," said Chouinard donning a wooden hat and a white gown. He plays a watchman in the resident show "X: the Land of Fantasy."
This is the first show of the Canadian entertainment company since it ceased operations worldwide due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The show is co-presented by Cirque du Soleil and Chinese real estate venture Hangzhou Suntiandy Group. It chronicles a fictional tale of two kingdoms using multi-dimensional characters, surreal storyline, and high-energy action and acrobatics, to induce an immersive experience.
The comeback show on June 3 was attended by medical workers and frontline personnel who served in the COVID-19 battlefield. "We want to express our appreciation to those who fought in the frontline," said Chouinard.
Precautions were adopted to ensure the safety of the audiences, according to Xia Xiaoyu, deputy general manager of the culture and tourism department, Hangzhou Suntiandy Group.
"Besides the disinfection of the entire theater twice every day, we also limit the total number of attendees and ensure social distancing in the seating arrangement," said Xia.
The 80-minute show garnered positive feedback from the audiences. "Many people said they have been waiting for long to watch the show," said Xia.
Chouinard and other performers have been training and rehearsing since mid-April to prepare for the show's recommencement. As some foreign actors were unable to return to Hangzhou due to the epidemic, new performers joined the team.
"During a months-long lull of the epidemic, we redesigned the show by adding new acrobatics and making its storyline more concise," said Janet Yu, stage manager of the resident show.
Although COVID-19 continues to batter the global entertainment industry, Yu is optimistic about the future.
"As Cirque du Soleil's only recommenced show globally, it served as an important milestone," said Yu. "We hope our preparations would serve as useful guidelines for other companies. We will get better."
According to the company, performances of "X: The Land of Fantasy" will be staged on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays starting June 3 in Hangzhou.