Coming Soon to Vegas: Zarkana

Seth Olenick Abby Tegnelia Karen Rose

Posing with two of my NYC coworkers: Seth and Karen.

I recently got to spend a week in New York City, during which I re-fell in love with that insane town I used to call home. Even though I got to spend time with old friends and a few days with my NYC co-workers, my trip did have an actual reason: to see Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana, which was finishing up a long run at Radio City Music Hall. The reason? The show is gearing up for its permanent home in Las Vegas. I was so excited to see it! The best part: I got to bring two of my full-time Vegas magazine editors, who happen to live in NYC: my photo editor, Seth, and my managing editor, Karen. I couldn’t get through my day without either one of them!

I have a long history with Cirque: Last year, I even got to go behind-the-scenes during a visit to its headquarters in Montreal the day after attending the premiere of the Michael Jackson touring show. (I wrote about the homage in Vegas magazine.) I’ve seen all six Cirque shows on the Strip at least two times. My fandom is almost embarrassing! So needless to say, rolling up to Radio City was exciting.

Radio City Music Hall


Zarkana opens at Aria in Las Vegas November 1. I am so confident that it’s going to do absolutely great! It’s replacing the Viva Elvis show, which it couldn’t be more different from. I hate to say that Zarkana returns to the older, more traditional Cirque before it started basing shows around iconic entertainers such as Elvis and The Beatles — because it couldn’t be more modern. It is full of spectacular acts performed by the most athletic, charismatic performers, reminiscent of Mystere, the oldest show on the Strip. But it’s all tied together by an MC of sorts, a haunting opera singer. And the over-the-top video effects will blow your mind.


Two of the stars of Zarkana, both of whom have Vegas history.


One of my favorite parts about interviewing the stars of Zarkana the day after seeing the show was finding out how eager they were to move to Las Vegas! Both of the performers shown here have previously been in a Vegas show: the opera singer in Hunchback of Notre Dame, the character actress in The Beatles Love. A lot of the other performers are settling down in a permanent show for the very first time, having grown up in caravans themselves. The whole cast was busily looking for apartments, cars and schools for the children!

Radio City Music Hall

Standing on stage! From the viewpoint of the Rockettes and other Radio City performers.


I love everything about live theater and soak it all in when I get to tour backstage, from the wigs and costumes to all of the props that the performers use.





Seth Olenick Karen Rose

My favorite photo of the night: Seth and Karen doing the “Abby pose.” They look great, if I do say so myself!

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. I’m cautiously optimistic for Zarkana, as everybody I’ve spoken to really enjoyed it, but then again they all compare it to Mystere which I really don’t like. I’m hoping that Cirque is going to put a great stage together as they have for most of their permanent shows in Vegas. That should help make it a great evening out.
    Love that there’s now a pose called “Doing the Abby”.

  2. Sounds like a great addition to Vegas…hope to return soon to see it for myself!

  3. You’ll have to come see it!! It was really, really good.

  4. I am hopeful about Zarkana. Elvis was our least favorite Cirque show, so what happens at Aria can only go up from here.

  5. I’m with Steve. Comparing it to Mystere is almost the kiss of death for me. How does it compare to Ka (which I loved)?

  6. That is totally your pose! Everyone knows you have to get your arm away from your body to avoid looking like you have fat arms!

  7. I love Cirque du Soleil too, and I’ve only seen them on tv! Would love to see them live!

  8. NICE! I’m a huge Cirque du Soleil fan as well, and though I missed the Michael Jackson show (was traveling when it came through town), I’ve seen every other Cirque show that has ever come to Atlanta. Can’t wait to see TOTEM when it comes next month!

  9. You have an awesome job! 🙂 I have yet to see a show but it is definitely on my list of things to see in 2013 – now I just have to choose which one!

  10. Their shows always freak me out… that being said I would try to see one if I got the chance…

  11. How fun! I love seeing anything in Radio City Music Hall. I also LOVE Cirque shows and am excited that they are adding a new one to the line up here in Vegas. Thanks for the sneak peek!

  12. Love the pic of the theater! breathtaking!

  13. I love a fun trip to NYC! Not sure how I feel about another Cirque show in Vegas, though. 🙂

  14. I’ve only seen one Cirque du Soleil and that was the Michael Jackson show, which was decent. If they keep creating shows in honor of legendary musicians, I’ll keep attending!

  15. Total awesomeness! Thanks for the backstage snippets – I enjoyed seeing the cool props 🙂

  16. I too am a bit a of a super fan when it comes to Cirque. I am just chomping at the bit to see this newest addition!! So exciting. Thanks for sharing, and glad you had a great trip!

  17. Gosh, you live such a fun life, Abby! I’ve actually NEVER seen a Cirque du Soleil show…always wanted to, but still haven’t. Maybe seeing Zarkana in the Aria will be my first time!

  18. You can’t live in Vegas and not see a Cirque show! Yes, please make this one be your first. 🙂

  19. “Doing the Abby”…so funny. We haven’t seen many of the Cirque shows either. I love the athleticism of the performers {they are AAAmazing!} but can’t seem to get into the shows, otherwise.

  20. I’m definitely okay with the Mystere comparison. It’s one of my faves!

  21. I cannot wait to see this show! So awesome you got to see it in NYC first!!

  22. Can’t wait for Zarkana to come to Las Vegas — we love all the shows here.

  23. I saw cirque Humanity… Wow…
    This looks to be a super show too!
    And you really got the backstage treatment there, didn’t you? How fun. I’d love to play in the costumes!!

  24. So exciting – I love Cirque du Soleil shows, I have seen them all on the strip and cant wait for another one to come join us! Very cool checking out behind the scenes with you.

    Las Vegas Calendar

  25. I love Cirque du Soleil! I saw my first show in Ohio, but it’s a even more amazing in Vegas. I will always plan to see a show when I visit.

  26. errr…I still have to see my first Cirque du Soleil show…

  27. I enjoyed the Michael Jackson one, especially since I saw it in a VIP box when I was in Seattle. And I wouldn’t have known about the show if it wasn’t for you. Totally made me a Cirque fan. I love the “Abby pose.”

  28. I went to a couple Cirque performances when I was a kid, but you’re making me want to check out a newer production asap.

  29. YES! Check out the newer ones. I love the ten-year-old Mystere, but seeing how modern Zarkana was — WOW. Sherry, I am so happy you saw MJ because of me! Come to Vegas to see some more!

  30. You know I am Canadian and I have never seen a Cirque show, it’s almost unpatriotic.

  31. I am definitely hoping to see a Cirque show on my visit in November… perhaps I’ll make it this one! Note how all my comments mention my visit… I’m trying to drop many hints so we can have a blogger meet up 🙂

  32. I’ve never seen a cirque show anywhere, but Vegas seems like the place to do it!

  33. You’d love it!!!!! You must come visit. 🙂

  34. I totally am going to 😀

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