When you think of something with grandeur, something magnificent – like Cirque du Soleil’s elaborate performances – the last things that come to mind are scuffed shoes and sweaty costumes. But within that traveling troupe of acrobats, musicians, singers and actors, there’s a behind-the-scenes crew that gets stuck doing what some would consider the “dirty work.”
There’s more than make-up involved to get “Quidam” running in Hawaii.
From what I gathered during our backstage tour of “Quidam,” the crew doesn’t consider their responsibilities “dirty” nor do they think it’s “work.” It seemed more like a party at the Blaisdell Center, with music bumping and everyone all smiles. From sewing to lighting to styling the 20-plus wigs, the backstage crew is very much the fuel that keeps “Quidam” moving across the continent and now, the Pacific.
This brings me back to those scuffed shoes I mentioned earlier, which are part of 2,500 other handmade costumes and accessories used to create 250 rotating looks for the show. After every performance, wardrobe specialists carefully touch-up the shoes with paint. The video shows the intricately-painted details that transform a common street shoe into a dazzling pair specific to “Quidam.”
VIDEO: From wigs to costumes, check out what goes on behind the scenes of Honolulu’s newest show, “Quidam.”
That’s not all they do. As part of the six hours of prep each day, the wardrobe specialists wash and steam mounds and mounds of costumes. Each performer has between two and seven costume changes for the show. WIth two for dress rehearsals, two for the show and at least one spare, their value alone totals to more than $1 million. That’s why it’s no surprise the troupe travels with eight of its own washing machines.
“Some (costumes) are very delicate; some of them are a bit tougher,” explained spokesperson Jessica Leboeuf. “But we really need to know our machines…every costume that touches the skin of performers will have to be washed after every performance.”
However, the technology for “Quidam” gets much more advanced than the simplicity of any washing machine. The wigs, hats, masks and costumes you see on stage were custom-made to fit each performer. How? By way of a 3-D body scan machine at the show’s Montreal headquarters. Each performer gets scanned from head-to-toe; this comes in handy for costumes that need repairing while on the road.
With the costumes, set, lighting and sound in place Wednesday afternoon, the cast and crew were just about ready for their first “Quidam” dress rehearsal in the islands. But before they stepped on stage, a traditional Hawaiian blessing took place. Fresh water from Oahu’s highest peak was used to bless each performer, as well as the stage. Now, the show could go on!
Meet a “Quidam” performer from Ukraine. Also, the cast and crew get a blessing from Hawaii before starting the show.
Photo Courtesy: Cirque du Soleil