VStar Entertainment Group has permanently laid off 139 employees after parent company Cirque de Soleil Entertainment Group filed for bankruptcy protection while it figures out how to restart operations that halted abruptly because of the coronavirus.

Cirque in a statement blamed the “immense disruption and forced show closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The workers with VStar, based in Fridley, as well as 3,340 others employed worldwide by Cirque, had been furloughed since March by the Montreal-based company.

The reorganization filing in Canada on Monday included Cirque agreeing to a purchase by its creditors: TPG, Fosun and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec as well as Investissement Quebec as a debt provider, according to the Associated Press.

Cirque said the sponsors’ bid includes an intent to rehire a substantial majority of the terminated employees, business conditions allowing, when its operations can resume.

Cirque, responsible for many blockbuster Las Vegas as well as touring circus arts shows, had suspended performances in March because of pandemic stay-at-home orders and lack of demand for large venue shows.

VStar notified the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development on Monday that the 139 employees would be permanently laid off as of Tuesday.

Cirque bought VStar two years ago as part of an expansion push.

VStar got its start producing “Sesame Street Live,” which is now produced by Feld Entertainment.

VStar now produces such shows as “Paw Patrol Live,” which has sold 3 million tickets around the world.

Last fall, it launched “Nick Jr. Live!”


This report includes material from the Associated Press.