Cirque du Soleil brings the curiosities of ‘Kurios’ to Atlantic Station

“Kurios — Cabinet of Curiosities,” Cirque du Soleil’s massive 35th production and an eye-catching reimaging of the Industrial Revolution, will run through Dec. 24 at Atlantic Station.

The 19th-century-themed show, written and directed by Michel Laprise, tells the story of a scientist and inventor whose creations come alive and who believes an alternative universe exists in a curio cabinet.

“Kurios” is the biggest show in Cirque du Soleil’s 38-year history. The cast is made up of 49 artists spanning 17 nationalities, with performers dressed in more than 8,000 customized garments and accessories for 120 different looks.

Making its world premiere in 2014 (with an initial stop in Atlanta in 2016), “Kurios”' imaginative subject matter makes some references to advances like aviation and historic events such as the 1900 Paris Exposition.

Underneath the 62-foot-high big top are more than 426 props on the stage, the lowest in Cirque’s history, designed to maintain eye level with the audience. The stage is surrounded by atrium-styled seating that was stained with silicone meant to simulate shiny wood, clear varnish and 26 coats of paint. Three musicians will greet the audience members atop the circus tent on days when the weather permits.

Credit: Courtesy of Mathew Tsang / Allied Integrated Marketing

Credit: Courtesy of Mathew Tsang / Allied Integrated Marketing

“Kurios,” which took eight days to set up, has more stage fixtures than any of the Montreal-based live event company’s properties. Standout props include a giant fiberglass hand, a large hot air balloon used as a projection screen, a slew of bikes, robots, a clock that reads 11:11 at the beginning of the show and 11:12 at the end, and flags to represent the nationalities of the cast and crew.

“I have an amazing team here,” said Rachel Lancaster, the artistic director of “Kurios” since 2016. “It’s not something I do alone. My main goal that drives the show all of the time is trying to keep the show as close to what was originally created.”

Lancaster, who originally joined Cirque du Soleil as assistant artistic director in 2011 before being promoted in 2014, was a former dancer and instructor in England. Before working on Kurios, she served as the artistic director for Cirque show “Amaluna.”

To fully execute Laprise’s vision, Lancaster had regular conversations with him about his vision and how it could be channeled on the stage.

“There’s a lot of the idea of changing perspective and opening people’s eyes,” said Lancaster. “The big theme behind the show is that anything is possible, and working together as a team makes anything possible.”

“Kurios” performs 10 shows per week with a cast from 18 to 60 years old. Lancaster credits Cirque’s team consisting of physiotherapists, coaches and stage managers to help her manage operations.

“As the show grows and evolves, we’re always researching ways to tell the story better, to upgrade the acrobatic content because we work with some of the highest level athletes around the world,” she said. “If we just do the same thing every day, they’ll get bored.”

“Kurios” restarted in April 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cirque du Soleil’s team scheduled virtual meetups to keep the team connected, but the performers independently scheduled meetings in the park while gyms were closed to train alongside one another and stay fit.

Credit: Courtesy of Mathew Tsang / Allied Integrated Marketing

Credit: Courtesy of Mathew Tsang / Allied Integrated Marketing

“If you’re an acrobat or athlete at the top of your career, that motivation to keep going was a huge part of everyone’s COVID-19 journey,” Lancaster said. “It’s such a fundamental part of what they do.”

Mathieu Hubener has been portraying lead character Mr. Microcosmos for five years. The French acrobat doesn’t regularly train in the gym like his castmates, but credits getting adequate sleep as the secret to his performances.

“It’s all about managing your energy,” Hubener said. “I like to get my sleep and do a little bit of cardio to keep it in check. You need to not give everything in one show.”

Lancaster said she loves seeing the “Kurios” company evolve and develop.

“That really drives my team, the artistic team and technical team that support the show and the artists every day,” she says. “It’s always how we improve, make it bigger, better and more exciting.”

EVENT PREVIEW

“Cirque du Soleil - KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities”

Wednesdays-Sundays through Dec. 24. From $49. Atlantic Station, 241 20th St., Atlanta. cirquedusoleil.com/kurios.