Your Public Radio Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Grand Ole ... Cirque du Soleil? New show will celebrate Nashville's country music

Cirque du Soleil is unveiling a plan to join its famous acrobatic shows with Nashville's country music. Here, a cast member performs during the The Beatles LOVE show by Cirque du Soleil at The Mirage in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller
/
Getty Images for Cirque du Solei
Cirque du Soleil is unveiling a plan to join its famous acrobatic shows with Nashville's country music. Here, a cast member performs during the The Beatles LOVE show by Cirque du Soleil at The Mirage in Las Vegas.

Cirque du Soleil's new show will have a deep country twang. The circus is working to meld its jaw-dropping acrobatics and artistic flair with the world of cowboys and honky-tonks — all performed to Nashville country music anthems.

Cirque du Soleil announced a partnership with Universal Music Group Nashville on Wednesday, saying it will collaborate on a new touring show next summer.

"With deep roots in storytelling, heartfelt emotions, and the ability to resonate with audiences from all walks of life, both country music and Cirque du Soleil embody themes of love and resilience," the circus said in a statement.

The new Nashville show will have a mix of classic songs and contemporary country, according to its producers. All of the music will be performed live, rather than using original recordings.

By signing a deal with Universal Music Group Nashville, Cirque du Soleil will be able to tap into one of the deepest catalogs in country music. The company's list of artists stretches back to Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Names such as Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, Luke Bryan, Billy Ray Cyrus, Toby Keith and Kacey Musgraves are also included.

There's no word yet on precisely which songs will be in the new show, but a casting call for singers, fiddle and banjo players and other musicians in Nashville hints at its ambitions.

"If you have the vocals of Dolly Parton, the rebel spirit of Johnny Cash, and you can groove like Shania Twain, we want to meet you!" the circus said.

It might seem like an odd fit to join an Old World-inflected circus with modern country music. But Cirque du Soleil has performed this type of alchemy before, with earlier shows devoted to the music of Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Michael Jackson. Still, we should note that of the three, the show featuring Elvis — a Country Music Hall of Fame member — failed to catch on with audiences. The show's Las Vegas run was cut short due to "relatively low attendance."

The new Cirque country music tour is slated to kick off in July of 2024. And unlike other trips, the circus won't be bringing its famous big-top tent along. After a premiere in Nashville, the show will visit theaters across North America, a circus representative told NPR.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tags
Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.