A Recent UT Alumna Brings Elvis to Life in Las Vegas
By Meg Sciarini, Class of 2010
One year ago I ran away to join the circus. I ran away from Toledo where I was born and raised, to Las Vegas to join the crew of Cirque du Soleil’s Viva ELVIS. Two shows a night for five nights a week, I avoid getting squashed by a monumentally large blue suede shoe, dodge super hero acrobats as they make their way to the stage, and listen to a live band jam. You never get bored in a place that has a stage that rises into platforms, a 60,000 lb trampoline set that is lifted into the air and acrobats flying from straps across the stage. Incredible talent both on and off the stage surrounds me; from Brazil to Lithuania, our show is made up of people from across the world who put on an amazing show celebrating the life and music of Elvis Presley as only Cirque du Soleil can. So how does a Midwestern girl like me fit into this plethora of worldwide talent? I have the ability to bring Elvis back to life every night.
I am a projection technician; part of my job is to bring the King of Rock’n’Roll back to the big screen, or in our case, three big screens. I operate video that plays during the show so that fans can relive their favorite Elvis moments, from his first appearance on TV all the way through the ‘68 Comeback Special. Having the skills of a projection technician is a blend of all my passions; my passions for art, for film, for technology and for the integration of video into live theater. Cirque du Soleil’s mission to invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world is the same ideal that I share as an artist. The University of Toledo – I graduated from the College of Visual and Performing Arts in 2010 – allowed me the opportunity to pursue my passions, which in turn has given me the tools to fulfill the mission at Viva ELVIS. Every day at work I am able to perfect the skills that I learned at UT as a film/video major, while I also have been able to branch out and learn other positions such as carpentry and lighting. It is an amazing experience when you can walk into work and learn something new every day. The education at The University of Toledo gave me a foundation in my craft, but more importantly, it gave me the confidence to be a seeker of knowledge; to be able to educate myself beyond the classroom and that learning does not stop after graduation. UT gave me opportunities to see the world, to explore video and opportunities to showcase my talents. But a college education is not a job guarantee, it was up to me to find my place in the world, to use my talents to the best of my ability. I am thrilled that I found my place with Cirque du Soleil.
As I walk backstage to start a show, I sometimes find myself the target for our cowboys practicing with their lassos. After I manage to dodge being hogtied, I narrowly avoid running into multiple Elvi making their way to the straps that will rocket them across the stage. As I finally make it to our flying TV prop, I commence my daily ritual of giving our seven-foot-tall rigger a high five, doing a sumo dance with my lead carpenter, and discussing the latest Detroit Red Wings game with my Michigan-native stage managers. As I continue with my evening, I usually walk by dancers in the hall who almost always amaze by not kicking me in the face in such a tiny hallway. I pass our chair-stacking performer and wave to him as he is balancing on a champagne bottle. I try to learn French phrases as I help one of our drummers get set and although I try to avoid it, I always have one of our acrobats manage to tackle me into a gym mat at the end of their act. It’s the small rituals during the night that make me love coming to work. While we run the same show every night, I never get bored because the people around me keep working hard to make the job fun. It also makes the people I work with more like a family, and being so far away from home, that means a lot to someone like me because I come from such a close family. It’s nice to be able to have friends who will cook a holiday meal with you when you can’t go home for Christmas. It’s a special treat to have a regular Sunday night dinner with friends from work who just enjoy hanging out, eating good food and laughing so hard your face hurts because it reminds me of my family and makes living so far away a little less lonely. Everyone on my show has been in the position of being far away from family; we all have left our homes, some of us have left our countries in order to pursue our dreams. We all have that common bond and no matter what our role on the show is and we all come together to support one another through the good times and the bad. From all over the world, we have come together for one purpose; to entertain. We have all shared the same dream and we have all worked hard. When I walk out on the catwalks above the audience and see people together in a standing ovation, I know that this is exactly where I want to be. Through the work ethic that I developed at The University of Toledo and with the influence of my hard working family, I have found a company that shares my ideals and supports my growth; I have found a company that I can dedicate myself to. I am asked for nothing less than my best and I put a hundred percent of myself into this show because this is my dream. It is the most satisfying feeling in the world to be happy to go to work, to have superiors that make work fun and that let me know my efforts don’t go unnoticed. The University of Toledo prepared me to give nothing but my best, to work hard, and to pursue my dreams; Cirque du Soleil has given me the opportunity to live my dream.