When Mike Gaines and Neal Fraser witnessed tears of joy amid a crowd of smiling faces after the end of their show, they knew they had created something special. In a post-pandemic world craving a return to gripping social experiences, Gaines and Fraser found that an immersive “soaring ’20s” performance was just what DTLA needed.
As the co-founder of the Vau de Vire Society, a performance and event services company that began over two decades ago as a grassroots circus movement, Gaines wanted to bring his avant-garde circus pedigree to the streets of DTLA.
After connecting with Fraser, who’s the owner and chef at Redbird, the duo created LA’s new 1920s-themed, circus-infused performance: Revive.
“It’s an answer to the pandemic, to people being sequestered and in some form of solitude for the past two and a half years,” Gaines explained. “This is really an attempt for us to help rejuvenate one’s every scent by offering the food, the visuals, the smells, the spectacle, and maybe even tapping into other senses that people don’t know that they had … and really just getting people back together.”
“It felt like a great combination, teaming up together,” Fraser added. “We have a beautiful venue, which we just thought would be an amazing backdrop for something that Mike has already been working on for a very long time. … We have a historic space, one of the oldest buildings in the Downtown Los Angeles area. We really wanted to celebrate that and do something that was unique.”
Within the lavish walls of Downtown’s historic Vibiana, an architectural gem and former cathedral dating back to the 1870s, guests can expect high-flying performances with classically trained dancers and acrobats to be wedded with a four-course culinary endeavor courtesy of Neal Fraser, Amy Knoll Fraser and their team at Redbird.
The Revive experience begins in the Vibiana courtyard, where guests can enjoy octopus skewers and truffle-laden entrees for 45 minutes before the start of the show. Once the performance begins, Angelo Moore & the Missing Links provides the music.
With the main menu, Fraser wanted to honor old Hollywood, but with a twist. One such dish is a steak and mashed potatoes with black truffle polenta and a porcini sauce. Food may be ordered via a QR code at the table.
The venue also holds six catwalks for the performers to use so that each guest has a front-row seat.
“We wanted to celebrate Los Angeles in its most glamorous era, and the connotation to the Roaring ‘20s after the pandemic in the early 1900s in the U.S.,” Gaines said. “We were seeing that reference everywhere, and we loved the era.”
Tickets are $190, with shows running from Thursday to Sunday every week until July 24.
“We built the entire show in less than one week, and it was a 24-hour-a-day job to do it,” Gaines described. “When this thing came to fruition a few weeks ago and actually happened, I personally felt a satisfaction that I haven’t felt in several years. I think everybody in the company felt the same way, and it’s very palpable when the performers are conveying this confidence and this joy. … It spills over onto the crowd.
“It’s about joy. It’s about celebrating life and celebrating life together in a very immersive environment. I think it’s just inevitable that people are going to leave there feeling revived, and that’s our intention.”