The Academy announced today that producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer have invited Cirque du Soleil to return to the Oscars. Their last visit to the main stage was in 2002, when their performance was so well received they spun it into a standalone show, IRIS: A Journey through the World of Cinema™. Danny Elfman composed the music for that program, and he will also create the score for this year’s program, which, according to an AMPAS release, “will feature the largest Cirque cast ever assembled for a single act.”
Though Kermit and Piggy will be presenting at the Oscars, reports have been circulating that this year’s Best Song nominees (from The Muppets and Rio) will not be performing during the Feb. 26 telecast. This news is a mixed blessing. Certainly Cirque du Soleil’s 50-person cinematic spectacular will be stunning. But in this case, Guy Laliberte’s gain appears to be Walter’s loss.
The Muppets strong box office shows that they still have a strong pull on audiences nearly 36 years after The Muppet Show debuted on TV. And that’s without mentioning the undoubtedly undulating carnival Rio‘s bossa nova king Sergio Mendes would bring to the mix. For all Cirque’s thrills, there are some underlying issues with this move. First and foremost, their kind of performance is viscerally more exciting in person. Will it have the impact on television audiences around the world? Muppets songwriter Bret McKenzie has teased a “drum battle” red challenge to Mendes. Could a Cirque performance deliver the au courant excitement of an old-versus-new, McKenzie-versus-Mendes face-off? Or will it inevitably devolve into a glitzier riff on yet another film-history montage (which the Oscars have increasingly shoehorned into the ceremony in recent years, over live content)?
What do you think, PopWatchers? Are you excited about the Cirque performance, or would you rather see Walter and a swiveling pack of samba dancers take the stage at the (soon-to-be-renamed) Kodak Theater? Vote below!