Cirque du Soleil’s Bruce Rickerd on Showing Up for Work

June 1, 2009
BRUCE RICKERD, GUITARIST FOR THE LAS VEGAS CIRQUE SHOW Mystère, has not only never missed a performance in over 15 years, he’s even covered for a buddy across town by recording all of the friend’s parts while still making his regular gig, thereby having his guitar playing heard simultaneously on both sides of the Vegas strip. He somehow found the time to talk to GP.

How is it possible that you’ve never missed a performance? Don’t you ever get sick or take a vacation?

This work ethic comes from the days I was a bandleader before Cirque. I was the front man, the contractor, and I owned the sound and lighting systems plus the truck to move it around. If I couldn’t do the gig, the whole band was out of work. So, I took that responsibility very seriously. I never missed a single gig in my whole 40-plus-year career, and I just brought that mindset to my job at Cirque. Fifteen years and more than 7,000 shows later, I still have a perfect attendance record.

What does your gig entail from a musical standpoint?

Our music is very modular. The songs are made up of many small sections that can be lengthened, shortened, repeated, or omitted as the action onstage requires—at a halfbar count cue. The music follows the action onstage. With acrobatics, elaborate stage automations, mishaps, and unforeseen situations, the band’s job is to provide a seamless musical score to the show. Being the lead guitarist, I provide solos that can be resolved within a bar. They can be short or long but must be resolved on cue.

How much longer do you think you’ll do this show?

I love this gig! I play with some of the best musicians anywhere, and I’m working with the best organization of its kind in the world. The music is original, eclectic, and fun to play. I could do this for another ten or 15 years.

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