To be honest I really didn't know what to expect from last night's premiere of Cirque du Soleil's "Alegria" at the Budweiser Event Center. But everybody I had talked to about it (that had seen the show), told me the same thing "It's awesome"! And they were right in every way! I have been to many circus performances in my youth and then later as a dad with my kids, but NEVER anything like this! Cirque du Soleil takes this type of performance to the upper limits and is indeed Awesome!!

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil's "Alegría" is a big show by any measure for the Budweiser Events Center.

With about 100,000 pounds of equipment - much of which has to be suspended from rafters - moving the touring production requires 18 semi-tractor trailers. The show has 55 performers and nearly as many support staff members.

It's the largest production so far to hit the Budweiser Events Center at The Ranch, Larimer County's fairgrounds and events complex, and the most lucrative.

As of Wednesday, the show had passed $1 million in gross ticket sales, making it the most financially successful show in the arena's eight-year history, said Rick Hontz, general manager of the Budweiser Center and regional vice president with Global Spectrum, which manages the facility.

From the gross revenue, the county is expected to realize more than $100,000, Hontz said.

"It is by far the most profitable event we've had at this building," he said. "It has worked out great for us in every way."

Hontz landed the show last year while visiting a trade show in Los Angeles. The Montreal-based company, which has been doing arena shows for several years, had to be convinced the local market would support the show, he said.

The projections proved accurate based on ticket sales that exceeded the promoter's goal, he said. And the operational aspect - making the show fit inside the relatively small arena - also met expectations.

The show opened Wednesday and runs through Sunday. It will have eight performances.

Setting up the show required the work of 85 locally hired stagehands and establishing about 80 "points" - where chain-motors are hanged to hold equipment, such as loudspeakers and lights - in the center's steel rafters.

"It's a heavy show," said Shane Cadwell, director of events.

"It's been a lot of work," he said. "It's been pretty much all hands on deck this week to accommodate their needs."

The main portion of the arena, which is home to the Colorado Eagles Hockey team, was divided in half by a large black curtain to accommodate the show. Several windows in the arena were temporarily blacked out to create a theater-like atmosphere.

Seating for "Alegría" will be about 3,200 for each performance. For a hockey game, the Budweiser Center can seat 5,600; for a concert, it can handle up to 6,000, depending on configuration of the stage.

When the production's equipment was unloaded, it covered nearly every square inch of the center's floor, Hontz said.

"I was a little nervous it all wouldn't fit," he said.

"Alegría" has been in production for 16 years, said artistic director Tim Smith. Cirque du Soleil configured the show to arenas and took it on the road as a way of expanding its fan base, he said.

Every arena is different, he said, and the show's staging is modified to compensate for differences.

"There are challenges, but we are the circus, so we are up for it," he said.

Performers in this production hail from 17 countries and speak 11 languages. They are trained acrobats and gymnasts, but they also receive training in acting and makeup, said Genevieve Laurendeau, publicist with Cirque du Soleil.

"It's all about making an emotional connection," she said. "It is very important to the artists because they get energy from the audience."

After the final performance Sunday, the massive set will be torn down and loaded on to the . And then it's off to Laredo, Texas, and another show.

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