Shopping Centers Today

OCT 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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14 S C T / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 8 T H E C O M M O N A R E A E N T E R TA I N M E N T M ove over, Cirque du Soleil, and make room for Cirque Italia — a European-style traveling circus that performs out of big-top tents in mall parking lots, and which has been winning over audiences in many U.S. markets. Cirque Italia is the creation of Italian-born entrepreneur Manuel Rebecchi — the nephew of the late Moira Orfei, an Italian actress who was known to many as the "queen of the Italian circus." Growing up in Italy, Rebecchi was a regular at Circo Moira Orfei, which his aunt established in the early 1960s. He also worked for her circus, which was at one point among the largest in the world. Rebecchi eventually immigrated to the U.S. to begin a new life and to launch his own business. One day he chanced upon an idea for a water-themed circus, which opened in Venice, Fla., in 2012. "He was drinking a bottle of water, and it hit him to do a water circus," said Chanté DeMoustes, Cirque Italia's producer and COO. "He decided to do something totally diŒerent." Žat initial concept evolved into Sarasota, Fla.–based Cirque Italia, which now has three traveling shows: two water-themed ones for all ages, and its newest, Paranormal Cirque. Že latter combines horror- story aspects with circus, theater and cabaret elements and is generally for mature audiences, although anyone under 18 may attend if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Since 2012 the circus company has performed rough- ly 3,000 shows in some 500 locations, many of them mall parking lots. Each of its whimsical, big-top tents can seat about 1,000, and the black-and-red Paranormal Cirque tent accommodates upwards of 1,200. Že company rents outdoor space on a temporary basis and says that about 90 percent of its shows sell out. Its theatrical, animal-free shows feature performers from around the world — including aerialists, a contortionist, jugglers and a roller-skate troupe. For its newest water-themed show, Cirque Italia designed what it calls an "ultra-modern water curtain" that forms words and patterns as droplets fall to a "lagoon" below. Many of the acts are performed at the center of a water foun- tain and are synchronized to music. "Že water aspect of the show creates a fantasy setting," said DeMoustes, who has been able to leverage her own background in dance, entertainment and management to help build the Cirque Italia brand. "It feels like [the performers] are swimming," she said. "Žere's an underwater feel to it. We also have mermaids and [mechanical] dinosaurs. We keep it fun and engaging for children." To be sure, Cirque Italia does have similarities to the de- cades-old, Montréal-based Cirque du Soleil, which performs worldwide, though there are diŒerences as well. "We bring the theatrical [performance] and creative costumes and makeup, but each of our acts has its own story," said De- Moustes, pointing out the contrast with the Cirque du Soleil shows, which share a singular story line. "Žis way we keep mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, the younger siblings and older siblings engaged. We oŒer a fun night out. You aren't sitting there trying to Ÿgure out what the story line is." Part of the Cirque Italia appeal is that its shows are more intimate than those performed in arenas that seat thou- sands, DeMoustes says. "Žis is not your typical circus," she said. "It's new-age and fun." Q Booking inquiries may be directed to Chanté DeMoustes, COO and show producer, at (352) 502-3162, or at A BIG-TOP AT TRACTION By Anna Robaton

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