The man behind Cirque du Soleil

It’s hard to imagine one man running the many-ringed circus which is Cirque du Soleil.

But sure enough, if one were to dream up a character fit for the title, it would be Guy Laliberté.

This weekend the New York Times profiled the createive mastermind, whose show “Ovo” is currently playing in a tent next to the Mall of America.

Once an accordion-playing, fire-eating street performer, Laliberté knows how to set his sights high:

“There are three capitals of entertainment in the world: Las Vegas, New York and London,” announces Mr. Laliberté, the only person smoking in the vast campus here where two-fifths of his 5,000 employees work. “So far the only one I truly conquered is Vegas. New York and London are still on my checklist.”

New York is the site of the premier of Cirque du Soleil’s “Zarkana” later this week; it was also the location of Cirque du Soleil’s first real flop “Banana Shpeel.”

But when it came to accounting for the failure, Laliberté was, well… unavailable.

Mr. Laliberté, who owns an island, a boat and seven homes, was hard to reach during some of the troubles; he was orbiting Earth, after paying $35 million to be the seventh space tourist, giving him one of the greatest excuses in the history of show business failure. “I kept hearing there are too many songs, too much like a Broadway show,” said the “Shpeel” director, David Shiner. “Guy wanted to do something different. But he was in space.”

You can read the full profile here.

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