Cirque du Soleil's third tour, sometimes called just Cirque Reinvente or (in the U.S.) We Reinvent the Circus, opened in 1987. It would be their first show to venture beyond its home country of Canada, via a make-or-break visit to an arts festival in Los Angeles, California; it did well enough that an out-and-out U.S. tour followed.
Within a single ring, a simple prologue sets the scene: The King of Fools and the Queen of the Night transform drab Ordinary People (caricatures of such, via exaggerated masks and suits/dresses) into whimsical acrobats and clowns for a day. Some of the acts had appeared in Cirque before — clown Denis Lacombe had appeared in both of the previous tours, and the climactic bicycle act in La Magie Continue — but the increasingly unified creative team led by director Franco Dragone gave the show theme and polish that charmed audiences on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border.
The show's huge success meant growing pains for the company. After the initial Canadian/U.S. dates, Dragone and his team began developing a follow-up tour while Reinvente continued touring. Eclipse wound up withering on the vine and the quality of Reinvente, as far as the creators were concerned, dropped without their oversight. The management shakeups that the company's expansion resulted in didn't help matters, and the 1990 leg of the tour, which took the show to London and Paris, proved disappointing. From the ashes of these setbacks ultimately rose Nouvelle Experience.
This show was filmed for television as a 50-minute special, and while the original tour ended in 1990, it had two variations mounted in 1992.
- Fascination was a Japanese arena tour that used this show's plot but featured acts and performers from both Reinvente and Nouvelle Experience plus new material.
- In Switzerland, Circus Knie, one of many established circuses that the fledgling CDS was inspired and mentored by, collaborated with them for a production of Reinvente that included animal acts (which Cirque traditionally eschews) and toured the country.
This show contains examples of:
- Clockwork Creature: A wind-up clown.
- Covered in Gunge: The clockwork clown winds up this way due to his antics with pies, and the Ringmaster has to use a remote control to get him off the stage before he covers anyone else with pastry.
- Early Installment Weirdness: There's little interaction between the characters and acts. The staging is that of a traditional one-ring circus with a curtain at the back for entrances and exits, and the costuming and makeup are far less ambitious and surreal than they would be in subsequent Cirque productions.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: In an offbeat way — the Korean plank act had acrobats whose costumes gave them penguin-inspired appearances; the song for the act was titled "Les Pengouins". Perhaps with this trope in mind, this act was incorporated into both Fascination and the Circus Knie version of the show.
- Excuse Plot: The first Cirque show that has one, and it's mostly limited to the bookend sequences.
- Gorgeous Garment Generation: The opening scene has the drably-dressed Ordinary Man slowly turned into the glamorous Ringmaster; once he's given the Nice Hat he gains a suit to match it. He's changed back in the final scene.
- Nice Hat: The magical blue top hat helps turn the Ordinary Man into the Ringmaster. At the end of the show, removing it changes him back.
- Non-Ironic Clown: Several appeared in the show over the course of its run; only Wayne Hronek's "Benny Le Grand" was a given. Ironically, he's not featured in the videotaped version.
- Pie in the Face: The clockwork clown loves to smash pies in his own face!
- Wind-Up Key: The clockwork clown has one in his back that the Ringmaster winds to start his segment.