Guy Laliberté is a dreamer. His first dream was to take a rag-tag gang of street performers in a little town near Quebec City in the mid-’80s and transform them into an innovative circus that had nothing to do with the old-school animal-focused circuses. That dream became the Cirque du Soleil, currently the biggest live-show producer in the world. Laliberté sold his controlling stake in the company he founded for a reported $1.5 billion in 2015.
Now he has another ambitious dream. This one is called Lune Rouge Entertainment, a hard-to-pigeonhole next-generation multimedia company that, in its own words, “develops highly immersive entertainment experiences and explores new creative horizons through projects in Quebec and abroad.”
Lune Rouge’s first major project is the PY1 pyramid, an odd-looking 25-metre-high structure made of steel and concrete that is located on the Clock Tower Pier at the east end of the Old Port. It will be home to an immersive sound-and-light show called Through the Echoes, which opens June 1 and will be performed five times a day until late September. Then the PY1 pyramid will be packed up and shipped to Miami and the same show will debut there at the end of November or the beginning of December. The next stop will be the New York City area in the spring of 2020 and the idea is to tour the PY1 pyramid for years to come.
In an interview Tuesday in the PY1 pyramid, Laliberté said he is comfortable with people comparing it to what the did with the Cirque du Soleil.
“What do you do after you do the Cirque?” said Laliberté. “You are condemned to do something that is not like anything else. I don’t know if it will work and I don’t take things for granted. The one thing I know about the pyramid and what is presented there is this: it doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. Does that qualify as being original? Will it be welcome by the public? We’ll see. So far it smells good, it feels good and we’ll see if it tastes good in June and if people buy into it. I’m all in. This is only one of the elements of what we’re masterminding. The future is coming.”
Groupe Lune Rouge, the parent company owned by Laliberté, has four divisions. One is the family office, which manages his personal investments, including his real estate holdings (notably the former Maison Alcan on Stanley St. that Laliberté bought in 2016 for $50 million and which now houses Lune Rouge) and his contemporary art collection, the latter which Laliberté says has been his most profitable investment in recent years. Then there is Lune Rouge Entertainment, which is behind the PY1 project. The company also includes Reflector Entertainment, another multimedia company majority owned by Lune Rouge and run by Alexandre Amancio, who owns a minority stake in Reflector. The fourth division of Lune Rouge is an innovation division for smaller technology ventures.
PY1 will also host immersive music parties featuring over 70 Montreal DJs, including Laliberté himself, who will be spinning the tracks June 1, 5, 7 and 9. The PY1 Nights will be held every Friday and Saturday nights over the course of the summer. All of the walls and the ceiling of the pyramid are used as screens, both for the Through the Echoes shows and for the party nights.
“It’s like a really fun sandbox,” said Laliberté. “The pyramid can be like the blue-and-yellow Big Top was for the Cirque du Soleil.”
There are also plans to have immersive meditation, yoga and work-out sessions take place in the pyramid in the morning.
The pyramid cost $25 million to create and each show will cost between $4 million and $5 million to produce.
When asked if the Cirque could potentially buy PY1, he said: “It’s not for sale. Not now. This is our first baby step in a series of things that are part of our master plan.”
It’s impossible not to notice that the PY1 Pyramid is located just to the east of the Cirque du Soleil Big Top, which is currently home to the reboot of the classic Cirque show Alegria. Laliberté is well aware of his neighbours just down the pier.
“It’s hyper symbolic, both of us right beside each other,” said Laliberté.
The big difference between the Cirque du Soleil and PY1 is there are no live performers in Laliberté’s new venture.
“I don’t want to touch that,” said Laliberté. “I made that decision when I left the Cirque. That’s finished. I’m exploring something else.”
The PY1 pyramid opens to the public June 1 and the sound-and-light show Through the Echoes plays daily until the end of September. The PY1 Nights immersive parties happen every Friday and Saturday night over the summer. For more information, visit the website py1.co
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019