BWW Review: BAZ- STAR CROSSED LOVE at The Palazzo Theatre
The fireworks found in every Baz Luhrmann film are on display in Las Vegas supplied by three fabulous women in BAZ- Star Crossed Love.
Under the current direction of Anderson Davis, For The Record has been churning out cabaret film tributes for about six years filling Los Angeles' bars with star-studded vocal gymnastics, immersive staging, and flowing booze. Condensing the plots of Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, and The Great Gatsby, BAZ is the team's natural Vegas debut with a solidly strung together evening of Baz Luhrmann musical linchpins including "Your Song," "Kissing You," and "Love is Blindness." These songs are performed by an enthusiastic ensemble adorned in glitzy film recreations by Steve Mazerek on Matt Steinbrenner's semi-immersive cabaretscape while champagne and specialty cocktails with edible gold-flakes are slung. You might just be lucky enough to have Tomyra-Joi park and bark in your face during "Lady Marmalade."
Most of the evening's intrigue lies in the central trio of women (sorry bois) including the thrillingly youthful Joi's Juliet, Ashley Loren's power belting Satine, and Charissa Hogeland's star making performance as Daisy (much more on her later). The women blend fantastically whenever they share the stage, particularly on a gorgeous arrangement of Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" (Jesse Vargas did the arrangements).
Joi exudes Juliet's innocence through unique sound and raw line readings from the original Shakespeare, opposite a similarly exuberant and youthful Myles Nuzzi as Romeo. The coquettish Joi is perhaps most thrilling in Garbage's "#1 Crush" which showcases Joi's good girl gone bad.
The Moulin Rouge subplot packs the least punch with Loren's Satine finding herself tragically underwritten with the best songs absent assumedly due to licensing and rights (that broadway adaptation is a-coming). Nethertheless, Loren's astronomical voice soars along with Jed Resnick's thrillingly sung Christian.
At the utterance of Daisy's immortal line "Gatsby, what Gatsby," a subtle weight behind Hogeland's eyes pulled me in. With an impressive palette of vocal tricks to paint with, Hogeland takes us on Daisy's journey with surprising depth for an otherwise by-the-books revue. Early numbers of shallow extravagance are delivered with an emotive mix that hardens into a strong Vegas-sized belt as Daisy's fury (a welcome emotion for the historically unpleasant and bland character) grows. Singing the most dynamite numbers with full confidence and command of storytelling (including a life changing finale of "Over The Love" by Florence and the Machine), Hogeland is undeniably the main reason to chase that Green Fairy to the Palazzo Theatre for BAZ.