Dubuc enjoyed a good relationship with set designer Stéphane Roy, and worked closely with him on placement on the band, which sits in two 28'-tall, 9000-pound Eagle-headed platforms, one on either side of the stage.
“They were originally meant to be Faberge eggs enclosed in glass, and band would have been in an air-conditioned space, but they wanted it to be open and big, which was more of a challenge,” explains Dubuc. Not to mention that these heavy band platforms move in from the sides of the stage.
“We had a lot of input on how big the eagles were,” he adds, noting that a seven-piece band and a singer had to fit in the stage-right eagle. “From the get-go I worked with the set designer, making sure there were platforms on the back for racks, as there are cables that run from under the stage to keep everything neat, kind of like an accordion.”
Also new for Dubuc with Zarkana: “I used an LCS system, with similar configuration to the FOH console, for the band monitors. This is the first time I’ve done it, although Cirque has done it on other shows, and it helps the band,” he says. The volume in the show varies, with some numbers more intimate than others: “Mystic Web, the trapeze act, is probably the loudest number in the show, and goes right into wheel of death, so we brought that down a bit so the show can breathe,” Dubuc adds. “In Libra, there are just two pianos on stage, much quieter. And Sand Painting, an overture or preview to the second act, and a prequel to Mystic Web, is a nice buffer, not loud, but you know the show has started.”
James Edmondson, who has mixed Quidam, Chris Angel Believe and and Corteo for Cirque du Soleil in the past, mixes the show, with a crew of three audio techs to tour with the show, and a five-man sound crew from Radio City. Jean-Michel Caron served as Dubuc’s assistant.
“The “triggered” music breathes with the performers, and adapts to the live performances,” says Dubuc. “We have highly textured, layered sound from the composer, Nick Littlemore... so many ideas and songs, we wanted to create a texture that was different from the nice clean sound of most Cirque shows… we wanted it a little dirty, with a richness...
“I’m pleased with it,” Dubuc concludes. “It will never be perfect and if the day comes along that I think a show is perfect, I need to get into a new line of business. As Guy Laliberté says, ‘Opening night is when the baby is born, then it grows up.’”