Inside Cirque du Soleil

Eden Batki

Kendall and Jordan try on headdresses

A family from Louisiana goes backstage at Cirque du Soleil's Mystère in Las Vegas.

The upgradees
"When a work conference forced us to put our original plans on hold, I booked a family vacation to Las Vegas instead. Gambling doesn't interest us--what appeals to us are just the lights and being there. The kids have never been out West. This is our chance!" Renée Simien, Lake Charles, La.

Using our powers for the good of the people
Renée Simien knew her children would enjoy a show or two during their week in Las Vegas, but they ended up getting to do much more than sit in the audience. Cirque du Soleil, the circus company known for its acrobatics and theatricality, gave the Simiens a rare behind-the-scenes look at Mystère, its kid-friendly production at Treasure Island.

Renée and her family--husband Johnathan, 10-year-old daughter Jordan, and 8-year-old son Kendall--explored above and below the high-tech set, hung out backstage, and tried on the cast's wigs and headdresses. A make-up artist even transformed Renée into the Mystère character Red Bird. "I looked like all the brochures!" she says.

During an afternoon training session, the Simiens watched artists practice (and sometimes make mistakes) as they learned routines. But best of all was the show itself. As Cirque du Soleil regulars know, audience members are often roped into comic pranks, especially while they're being seated. At their performance, the Simiens were the ones in the spotlight. "As soon as we walked in, we were part of the show," says Renée.

Many thanks to...
Cirque du Soleil, which performs Mystère five days a week at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino (, from $60, kids $30).

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