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A Journey Into Paradise

Cirque du Soleil Opens ‘JOYÁ’ Dinner Theatre Show in Mexico’s Riviera Maya

26 November, 2014

The presence of Cirque du Soleil now extends to Mexico’s Riviera Maya,which is the site of a brand new,custom-designed 600-seat dinner theatre located near The Grand Mayan resort,just south of the Cancun International Airport and just north of Playa del Carmen in the heart of this world-renowned coastal area. Produced by Quebec City theatre director Martin Genest and creative director Richard Dagenais,the Nov. 21 opening of JOYÁ marks Cirque’s 36th production to date since its inception more than 30 years ago,and is only the company’s third resident show to operate continuously at a permanent venue.

“It’s an adventure story for the whole family,” Genest said of JOYÁ.

The show follows the adventures of a teenage girl who is lost in her grandfather’s jungle and is sourced from a variety of different Mexican cultural traditions. Genest says he and dramaturge André Morency did “a lot of research,” and were impressed to discover that Mexico is home to one of the world’s best universities as well as one of the largest libraries. The name JOYÁ is derived from a Spanish word and represents something valuable,such as a jewel or pearl.

“We wanted to do a show that people here would be proud of,” shared Dagenais. “And that includes every aspect,including the cuisine,which had to be gourmet and authentic,pitched to the foodie market.” 

Since a meal is served during the performance,presentation and well-timed service are essential aspects of the experience. This reality is complicated by the fact that there are generally two sittings per evening and because the food is thematically connected to the show itself. Gone are the days when the meal was a secondary – even forgotten – part of the event. Dagenais told the Montreal Gazette that he believes the new Cirque dinner theatre is on the forefront of a new upscale trend,as evidenced by a new dining and circus show presented by the Paramount Hotel in New City.

“Now the food experience is as important as the show itself,” Dagenais stated. “We are just scratching the surface.”

Check out this Foodie’s Guide to Playa del Carmen for more great places to dine in the Riviera Maya.

Because time is required for dining,the JOYÁ show is shorter than most other Cirque performances,at just 70 minutes,but it’s also much more intimate because there are only 600 available seats and a cast of 24 performers. The theatre itself is located behind a mesmerizing veil of lush Mayan jungle,featuring gorgeous crystal-clear water pools with bright coral rocks and a wooden walkway leading to a theater that is perched above a massive lagoon and majestic waterfall. 

“Inhabited by entrancing characters that work hand in hand to perpetuate the love of live,JOYÁ abounds in subtle allusions to the history and culture of Mexico,” writes The Broadway Blog. “From the migration of the monarch butterflies,to the asteroid believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs,to artists such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo,and with mariachis,masked wrestlers,pirate legends and the rhythms and sounds of Mexico.”

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