As a classically trained musician, Stephane Allard didn’t imagine himself a circus performer — especially not one in clown makeup and full costume — but that is now his life in Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo.
The violinist studied in Quebec City and at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., and was freelancing in Montreal when Cirque first entered his world on a day in 2002. A composer contacted him, asking him to create a piece of music for Cirque’s Varekai show, which ran from 2002 to 2013 as a big top show and from 2013 to 2017 as an arena show.
Allard said he wasn’t ready to tour at that point and only did shows near his home in Montreal and Quebec City.
“And then I let it go — until 2009, when I was called in as a replacement for Cirque’s Corteo show in Japan,” he said.
“That was supposed to be for six months, but it ended up being three years — and then it was extended.”
Corteo, which is coming to Kamloops in its return as an arena show next week, started off as a big top show in 2005, running until 2015.
The show tells the story of a clown, Mauro, on his deathbed, who imagines a parade of characters and scenes from his past, as Allard put it.
That parade features acts like the acrobatic ladder, where a ladder specialist interacts with a floating angel while keeping up an unnerving balance. Another is the helium dance, which features a tender and poetic moment between the dreaming clown and his clowness, who floats attached to large balloons.
“It just brings the audience into a theatrical world of fun and comedy,” Allard said.
Allard is primarily a musician in the show, but his new life as a clown also brings with it “something different,” which the performer said he appreciates, leading him to explore new opportunities the show presents.
“And what’s even newer for me, I’m doing a backup act,” he said.
Allard said he appears in the first act of the show and that it feels “just fantastic” when he’s on stage.
But what the performer really appreciates is touring with the show’s acrobats, downplaying his own role in comparison.
“For us musicians, you can say it’s an easy job, yes and no, but we don’t have to go during the day and work our act. We go there for soundcheck, we warm up and play and it’s good,” he said.
“The acrobats have to go early, and they do their act and they work hard and that’s what the people will see. When they perform, they are really into it.”
Corteo will run from Wednesday, Oct. 24, to Sunday, Oct. 28, at Sandman Centre, 300 Lorne St. The shows during the week are at 7:30 p.m. while weekend shows are at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets range in price from $57 to $143 depending on location and are available online via Ticketmaster.