Those who continue to view Tysons Corner as little more than a collection of vapid office parks and suburban shopping malls will have to swallow their pride if they want to see Cirque du Soleil this summer.
Cirque was a top attraction at National Harbor in Prince George’s County until construction of the new MGM casino and hotel began on the site where performances took place.
This summer Cirque plans to move its tent to property outside the Tysons Corner Metro station by Tysons Galleria, on a 10-acre parcel of land owned by Lerner Enterprises that Tysons stakeholders are positioning as a “town square” for hosting events, festivals and concerts.
It’s not the first time Tysons has hosted the Canadian theatrical troupe but when Cirque’s show, “Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities,” debuts in July, it will join a growing number of entertainment options and attractions beyond the two malls.
Tysons has added five restaurants in the past year and the plaza outside Tysons Corner Center, across Route-123 from the Cirque site, now hosts a skating rink, concerts and outdoor markets.
Yannick Spierkel, company manager for the “Kurios” show, described the show as a historical fantasy set in a late 19th century inventor’s shop. “We’re going to play with their imagination, we’re going to play with their perception,” he said. “Things that are small will become big, things that are big will become small.”
The show has signed on for 38 performances this summer with likely extensions this year and in future years. It will bring 116 cast members and support crew from 22 countries to the area for the summer.
“The area is booming,” Spierkel said. “The extension of the Metrorail system is certainly an attraction to the area for us.”
Michael Caplin, president of the Tysons Partnership, a marketing group formed by area developers, said it’s no surprise that the area is adding more attractions now that more people are living in Tysons. Three 400-unit apartment buildings opened in the past 18 months, bringing hundreds of new residents to the area.
“The rhythm of life in Tysons is completely changing and the Cirque du Soleil is a perfect example of that,” Caplin said. “We have new entertainment, new retailers, new events and now we have this global sensation coming here. They could go anywhere that they want and they chose to come here.”
More is on the way. In 2018, Tysons is scheduled to add a 15-screen Showplace Icon movie theater at one of its largest new developments, called the Boro, by the Greensboro Metro stop. Ultimately the Boro alone will have 4.2 million square feet of development on 18 acres. The first phase includes 800 residential units, 400,000 square feet of offices, a one-acre park and retailers including a Whole Foods Market and a craft brewery.
Fairfax County approved the project in mid-January. One of its developers, Gary Block, managing director of the Meridian Group, boasted that the Boro would become “one of the area’s top destinations for shopping, dining and entertainment.”
Caplin said each time Tysons adds something that attracts visitors that don’t work or shop in the area it is a chance for the neighborhood to show off all its new amenities. “It will give people an opportunity to see all the growth that’s happened in the last 12 months,” he said.
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