'Burgh-Born Cirque du Soleil Juggler Will Make You Say 'Quidam!'

Watch world-renowned performer juggle on the streets of Pittsburgh.

When Patrick McGuire witnessed his first juggling act, he had no idea that the “circus art” would become his life’s work. McGuire, 36, grew up in Pittsburgh before becoming a longtime Cirque du Soleil cast member. He’s currently touring the troupe’s newest arena show, Quidam.

As a child, McGuire was mainly a skateboard and remote-control car enthusiast. He was introduced to the world of juggling “on a whim”.

"My dad and I just happened to be over at his buddy's house, and he was learning how to juggle," McGuire explained. "We thought that was cool, so I started practicing."

At age 12, he learned the basics. At 14, his mother brought him to the International Juggler's Association's annual convention, which was being held in Baltimore that year. McGuire said the event “blew his mind”.

"It was just incredible. I had no idea what level juggling could be taken to,” he said.

Two weeks after graduating high school, McGuire joined Cirque du Soleil, where he has worked ever since. After touring with Cirque’s Mystere, he moved on to Quidam.

That show premiered in Montreal in 1996 and has since toured on five continents. Along with a cast of 52 world-class acrobats, musicians, singers and characters, Quidam centers on young Zoé, who finds that her life is void of meaning until she falls into an imaginary world (the titular “Quidam”) and meets characters that help inspire her. Currently, McGuire is playing the Father character, but he also does an in-character juggling act with objects such as a briefcase and an umbrella. McGuire said that he is very much in a zone when on stage, because juggling "takes a fair amount of concentration".

"Juggling is one of the most difficult circus arts to perform because it's so precarious. You're always on the point of complete and utter disaster. People know when you make a mistake," said McGuire. "It takes years and years and years to learn how to strike a balance."

On a day off from a recent State College performance, McGuire made a road trip to Pittsburgh – his first homecoming since leaving town at the age of 16. In the space of that 24-hour visit, he managed to film a two minute-long video of himself.

"It's a pretty cool little video. It's all about me and Pittsburgh. I'm juggling all around the city. I was on Mount Washington and the bridges and the incline. It's pretty neat," McGuire said.

McGuire is looking forward to spending some proper time in Pittsburgh when Quidam plays Oakland on October 12-16.

"I'm looking forward to maybe renting a car and driving around the neighborhood where I grew up. See how everything looks now, coming back 20 years later. I think that would be pretty fun."


Quidam will be showing at the Petersen Events Center from October 12-16. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

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