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This article was published 17/4/2018 (1285 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As of Tuesday morning, the White Big Top officially made its return to the Winnipeg skyline.
The big top is the largest touring tent in the world and houses the largest touring production in the world, Cavalia’s Odysseo, an equestrian and acrobatic arts production that previously made a hugely successful stop in Winnipeg in 2015.
The tent — erected at the intersection of Kenaston Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway — takes 80 people about a week to put up and, once it’s ready, it stands 38 metres tall and is approximately the size of a CFL football field in order to accommodate bleachers with 2,000 seats and a stage 1,626 square-metres in size.
The raising of the White Big Top is one of the first steps toward opening day May 12. Next comes the 70 horses that perform in the show, which will travel north once Odysseo wraps up its current stint in Arizona.
"Every town likes to sell its assets, every town likes to project the great things it has available; we have a tremendous arts scene, a tremendous culture scene, sports of course are second to none, but you’re always fighting the impression you’re a one-horse town. For the next three or four months, we will be a 70-horse town, and very proudly so," joked Kevin Donnelly, senior vice-president of venues and entertainment for True North, at a news conference on site Tuesday.
True North is once again partnering with Cavalia to put on the show, a move artistic director and Cavalia founder Normand Latourelle said is unique to Winnipeg.
"We never have a partner anywhere, even when we go to other big markets, we don’t have partner, we do everything by ourselves... we do everything in-house," he explained.
Just short of 25,000 tickets have already been sold for Odysseo, which is not too far off from the record-breaking presale numbers the show saw in 2015. Last time, Odysseo sold more than 100,000 tickets during a seven-week run.
This is the last time Winnipeggers will get a chance to see Odysseo — the production will finish touring at the end of the year and Winnipeg and Latourelle’s hometown of Montreal are the final two stops on their list.
"This show will stop touring very soon, this show is going to stop touring in 2018. I will announce in a few months why, which is very good news, but for now this is the last time Winnipeg can see the show, and if I had to choose the two last cities where I had to tour the show, Winnipeg was at the top of the list and my hometown (Montreal) was the second one. And the reason for that is we share that passion with Winnipeg people," Latourelle said.
"The audience of Winnipeg has a big heart; this show is about love, love of nature, and it’s about peace and it’s about being happy and, when we came here, I could see after the end of every show, I felt like I was part of Winnipeg, I felt like the show as part of Winnipeg and everybody was so proud," he said earlier.
Along with the raising of the tent came a few announcements; on the business end, Telus and Delta Hotels have both jumped on as sponsors of the event, with Delta planning to offer special packages to out-of-towners coming to Winnipeg to see the show, as well as providing accommodation to some of the performers.
Additionally, local singer Maria Aragon will be joining the cast as a vocalist for the Winnipeg shows. The 17-year-old became an internet sensation in 2011 with her cover of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way and has since performed for a number of high-profile gigs, including for Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. She will be the first guest singer to ever be included in Odysseo, and may have the opportunity to continue her performances with the show as it travels to Montreal after Winnipeg, according to Latourelle.
"This is a complete honour. I’m a huge fan of the show, I’ve seen it five times," Aragon said.
"I feel so honoured and grateful to be a part of it and to sing for my hometown."
Odysseo opens in Winnipeg on May 12 and is scheduled to run through June 10. Tickets are available at cavalia.com or Ticketmaster, and range in price from $47 to $125.50, plus fees. VIP packages are also available.
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Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.