The multi-billion dollar parent company of Cirque du Soleil, a worldwide circus phenomenon that appeals to everyone from kids to grown-ups, is undergoing a creative and leadership makeover.
The company has replaced its chief executive of nine years, Daniel Lamarre, with a senior executive already at the company.
Laurent Silhouette, Cirque du Soleil’s executive vice president, will take over the CEO job when Lamarre leaves Oct. 31 to create a different kind of circus, similar to the original one created by Claude Savoie in 1974 in Montreal.
Cirque du Soleil has more than 4,000 artists in over 100 different shows and 10 permanent units.
The company’s success is based on the fact that it’s “a spectrum of amazing characters and iconic characters” more than ever before, Silhouette said in an interview.
The “Circus Royale” in London already has the “Luigi” show, and will have a New York version of the “Totem” show soon. The “Luigi” show inspired a game with players a team of players including a chef, a furrier and a magician and the show will be presented in Asia starting next year.
As Silhouette says, the company plans to “interpret traditional circus for our audience” and to mix traditional circus acts with more contemporary elements in the ‘family cirque’ process.
“To take this past vision and take it into the future, I think was a necessity,” he said, adding that to do so would require management change. “It’s a lot of adaptation. It’s been 19 years since we’ve put on a new show and this concept we are trying to take forward.”
Joining Silhouette will be Ralph Lamarre, father of Daniel, chief executive of Cirque du Soleil’s parent company, the Quebec-based Cirque du Soleil Inc. There is no word on whether the change in leadership will include a new name, the “Totem” show to be called “Totem,” the name “Luigi” and whether the show will go into full production.
The elder Daniel Lamarre said in a statement that his decision was taken after a long and careful process.
“Daniel decided to make a personal decision that requires him to step down from his current position and to move on to the next part of his career,” Ralph Lamarre said. “Daniel Lamarre is a true visionary, who is leaving the company in the hands of a top executive with extensive experience, particularly in the area of design and new trends for the circus arena.”
Cirque du Soleil officials wouldn’t say what led to the change. The company has a long tradition of keeping its books secret to protect its trade secrets.
Many aspects of the shows — from the top to the bottom — are drawn from the founders’ works, such as the “Luigi” production with its elements from “Our Father’s Garden,” a stage play that opens in March. The new shows are referred to as “entertainment visionaries” and have a nautical theme.
Daniel Lamarre was only the third CEO in the company’s 44-year history. He was promoted in 2011 after the previous CEO was forced out for an unspecified illegal activity.
Under Lamarre, Cirque du Soleil has expanded its lines of performing arts by opening cultural facilities like circus schools around the world.