CLEVELAND -- It has been said many times that if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life, and Jeremiah Hughes is living proof of that.
A native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Hughes has relocated to Las Vegas and is now one of the lead characters in Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk - The First Flight show that was inspired by the blockbuster James Cameron movie, Avatar.
“Anything is possible, but I’m very fortunate,” Hughes said on a recent stop in Cleveland. “I found work worth doing, so I work hard. I didn’t have these opportunities when I first joined the show, but it was such a wonderful show and a wonderful opportunity that I went and I invested myself, time and energy, and it worked out, now, I wake up and come to the arena. I work, for the day, on the technical side, and then, I’ll go do the show as a performer, and just try to come back to reality.”
Behind the scenes with Cirque du Soleil's Toruk - The First Flight
Serving as lead character Ralu in Toruk, Hughes does not just act and perform. Also, he’s a dance captain, dancer, line captain and works behind the scenes with the technical side of the show as well, all of which he calls a “full commitment to the project.”
“It’s a different city, so there’s a beauty in the idea that we get to change environments and get to be refreshed,” Hughes said. “(We get) to go around Cleveland and see something that you might find inspiring. I’m a huge music fan, so there’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You get to enjoy these moments that refresh your outlook, and then, you can continue having something to offer to the work.”
In addition to the landmarks of cities, Hughes is rejuvenated and reenergized by the fan interaction with the show.
Along with clapping and cheering on the performers, show-goers have the opportunity to download the Toruk - The First Flight app for smartphones and actively take the journey of the show along with the characters.
“It’s super heartwarming,” Hughes said. “There’s one or two moments where you can look around and be energized by that support of the audience.
“There’s clapping. There’s cheering. There’s applause. There’s laughter we’ll have throughout the show, but then, even them choosing to have their phone out and have them be connected to us in that moment is really, really special.”
Toruk - The First Flight takes place 3,000 years before the timeframe of the movie and tells the story of the very first rider, the Toruk Makto, of the great leonopteryx, and also, about the discovery of the beauty within Pandora, where different tribes with unique ways of life interact.
“It’s an absolute honor to be able to tell this story,” Hughes said. “I love it. It’s a beautiful world we get to play in. There’s rich characters. It’s a rich environment, and it’s such an honor to actually be inside a world like that, to be able to step into an alternate reality.
“For two hours, we transform the space and our goal is to really have people feel like they’re on Pandora, so I get to live another life for two hours a night, and it’s a beautiful world. Pandora is magical.”