Free “Kà” Open House at MGM Grand Will Fill Your Brain With Awe
If you’re looking for something new, fun and free to do in Las Vegas, check out the new open house at MGM Grand’s “Kà.”
“Kà” is easily one of the best shows in Las Vegas, Cirque or otherwise, and at the new open house, you’ll gain an even deeper appreciation for the sheer technical miraculousness involved in making the popular show spring to life.
“Kà” began its new open house on Aug. 18, 2015, and we stopped in on opening day to check it out. The tour will continue into the foreseeable future, according to show reps.
The open house happens each Tuesday, at 11:00 a.m. and again at 11:30 a.m. Guests of all ages are welcome. Each tour lasts 20-30 minutes.
The behind-the-scenes tour starts in the “Kà” theater lobby at MGM Grand.
The lobby features a huge, colorful dragon in the lobby, originally a prop in “Zaia,” a Cirque du Soleil show once staged in Macau, China.
Also in the lobby is one of the world’s largest stringed instruments, the Earth Harp, created by William Close. Yes, we actually took notes for once in our life.
The Earth Harp is played by two musicians before every performance of “Kà,” so turn up 15 minutes early to catch the stroking. Or strumming. Don’t make it awkward.
Next, the tour moves into the massive “Kà” theater. This is sort of where the awe kicks in.
We’ve attended “Kà” a couple of times, but have never seen the theater in its dormant state, between shows, and our jaw may actually have dropped. Not especially attractive, but it happened.
“Kà” is a $165 million production, and it shows.
Once inside, a presenter named Jane shows off her encyclopedic knowledge of the show. Although, we’re not entirely sure there are still encyclopedias. You get our drift.
The tour includes an incredible amount of information about the technology involved in the production of “Kà.” The presentation pulls aside the curtain and gives guests a rare chance to appreciate what goes on backstage. “Backstages,” technically, since “Kà” has seven moving stages.
Tony Ricotta, Company Manager of “Ka,” makes the point that guests really shouldn’t notice all the technology of the show during the show.
Tony Ricotta says, “I think that’s part of the atmosphere Cirque tries to create. They want to immerse you in an environment. We don’t want to beat you over the head with all of the little tricks that are being used to make you feel like you’re being transported to a new place, a new world. I don’t want you thinking about the speakers during the show. I want you to enjoy what’s coming through the speakers. But this is the time to appreciate the complexity of the engineering and the feats that went into making the ‘Kà’ theater as special a place as it is.”
One of the more impressive feats of engineering is the “Sand Cliff Deck,” a 50-ton stage that seems to float on thin air. Here’s a look.
“Kà” is the first Cirque du Soleil show to have a cohesive storyline.
The Sand Cliff Deck (shown in the video above) is reactive to touch, like a giant iPad.
“Kà” boasts the largest stunt airbag ever built.
The highest choreographed fall in the show is 70 feet.
The “Kà” theater is nine floors above stage level and four below, or about 150 feet from top to bottom.
The theater has 3,300 lighting instruments.
The “Kà” theater was the first live performance space to integrate speakers into its 1,950 seats.
The “Kà” props department is responsible for more than 600 individual props used in the show (props to the props department). That department also handles the show’s eight larger-than-life puppets.
The show has more than 10,000 costume pieces, including shoes. Most of the shoes, by the way, are based upon wrestling shoes.
“Kà” employs 185 technicians in eight different departments.
It takes 115 technicians to make each performance happen.
There are 74 artists in “Kà,” including eight musicians.
The performers represent more than 25 nationalities from all over the world.
There’s one cast of “Kà.” They perform two shows nightly, 10 shows weekly and 470 shows a year.
The “Kà” theater has more than 5,000 speakers surrounding the audience. (There was an impressive demonstration of the speakers during the open house, and it was worth the price of admission. Despite admission being free. We may have technically made some money on the deal.)
You’ll have to take the tour for the rest.
Unlike some other backstage tours in town, the freeness makes this one irresistible, and it’s compact, so you can get back to your Vegas adventure.
“The show is only 90 minutes in and of itself, so we can’t give you an hour’s worth of time because you give away too much of the show and people won’t be inspired to purchase tickets,” says Tony Ricotta. “The ultimate goal is to market the show and to sell tickets, of course. We figure 20 minutes or a half hour is a perfect amount of time. We can go through enough of the content, we can demonstrate enough of the technology. And you really don’t want to take away too much from someone’s day.”
By the time the open house ends, brains are full and imaginations are sparked. The scale of the production is truly mind-boggling.
The free “Kà” open house is an enlightening way to gain a greater appreciation of just what goes into a Las Vegas show. It’s a chance to sing the praises of the sometimes unsung team of technicians and costumers and others without whom “Kà” wouldn’t be possible.
Company Manager Tony Ricotta adds, “So many people have a generic view, thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve seen Cirque du Soleil,’ but so many of our shows are completely different from each other. This was an opportunity for us to really showcase the technology we use, that there is no other theater like this in the world and how different it is from other shows in town. The open house is a great way to share that with guests.”
We’re adding the “Kà” open house to our list of free, must-do things in Las Vegas. Here are more free things to do in Vegas if you insist upon being into the doing of things.