BWW Review: Vegas In Three Acts. From The Sublime To The Obscene To The Badonkadonk.
Since its inception, Las Vegas has become the playground of the international thrill seekers and the backyard party zone for Los Angeles. Acts as vast as Frank Sinatra, Dorothy Dandridge, Elton John and Cher have lent their talents to entertain those taking a break from the heat or the craps table. Since 1993, with the launching of Mystère, the Montreal based company Cirque du Soleil have set up residence in the city, where currently seven shows rest in showrooms at famous resort hotels. In 2011, a rowdier company, Spiegelworld, squatted in the front proscenium of Caesar's Palace with their raunchy Absinthe, creating a second brand for the city. And now, the Supermodel of the World, RuPaul Charles has transferred her fierce Drag Queens to the Flamingo Hotel to recreate her award-winning reality show RuPaul's Drag Race where the audience gets to be the judge.
O, Bellagio Hotel
The water-themed extravaganza, O, is a mesmerizing tableau of aquatic beauty and technique. A 200-foot wall-to-wall, Olympic-sized swimming pool with 1.5-million-gallons of water allows artists to dive, synchronize swim, light themselves on fire, and spin around, all which adds to the opulence. The show features a remarkable cast of 77, all dressed in spectacular outfits by Dominique Lemieux, as they swim and ride around a rotating set by Michel Crête. The score by Benoit Jutras juxtaposes Asian and African influences that are both boisterous and serene. Creators Guy Laliberté and Franco Dragone have created a soufflé of visual spectacles and haunting images.
O has been featured at the Bellagio since 1998. However, the production has now gone to a seven-day-a-week structure. According to Senior Company Manager Tony Ricotta, "Demand [for O] was not seeming to diminish so we looked at what else we can do. Headquarters took a challenge: What if we did O 7 days a week?
"There have been so many comments over the years that people wanted to see O but it wasn't playing on the days they were available. Why not do it if the audience is there? For the other Cirque shows on the other properties, there are generally other entertainment options [such as celebrity headliners]. However, at Bellagio, O is the ONE AND ONLY show and would not go head-to-head with anything else on property.
Tickets can be purchased at https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/o. For a VIP treatment, where you learn about the production, meet and greet cast members, and receive a box seat with the best views in the house, visit https://bellagio.mgmresorts.com/en/booking/show-booking.html?_ga=2.264398671.1581294342.1583272780-1507039325.1583272780#/show-listing?arrive=2020-03-03&showId=a0a53529-eb5f-4553-b224-ee5e90272cfe&programId=015f32df-78f0-4cae-8ae5-3baf1a214331
Opium at The Cosmopolitan
From Spiegelworld, the crew behind Absinthe, comes Opium, where audience members get to travel through the galaxy with the most sex-crazed, moronic crew since the '70s porno spoof Flesh Gordon. With cheesy props and a buffoonish sense of humor (of course Uranus is a buzz word), this 2001: A Space Idiocy is a blast. Behind all the snickers and off-color humor are some of the most remarkable set pieces. The human body cannot possibly manipulate itself as these acrobats do. It's unfeasible, and yet the evidence is right before your eyes. A double-jointed goof contorts his body so that two average tennis rackets can slide from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, all while splaying confetti like the '70s comedian Rip Taylor. Another fillets himself with jagged swords he swallows while making randy jokes. A sexy cosmonaut balances himself while his precious dog Sputnik climbs all over him. One gentleman blows bubbles. What could be fascinating about that? With a bit of cigarette smoke, these bubbles become jaw-dropping visual spectacles that defy what we know of the gas elements.
A sophomoric romp (with a dash of Monty Python), Opium is naughty and features the supplest acts to astound even the most jaded.
Tickets can be purchased at Spiegelworld.com.
RuPaul's Drag Race Live! At The Flamingo
The fierce competition that has become an Emmy-winning force of nature, RuPaul's Drag Race has come to Vegas to slay. Featuring some of audiences' favorite contenders, the show simulates the reality show. Even though each moment, each queen's rampage and breakdown, and each sabotaged dance number has been staged to the Gods, these consummate performers still manage to make the evening feel authentic. The evening allows past fan favorites to vie for the crown once again. Season eight's Britney Spears impersonator Derrick Barry shows off all she's learned about eye make-up since her season. Season eight runner-up and All Stars 4 finalist, the lady with LEGS LEGS LEGS, Naomi Smalls stomps on the competition. First round loser of Season 10 only to become a Meme sensation and a serious contender on season 11, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo proves that she grows more fabulous as a performer every day. Season 11 winner Yvie Oddly continues her dance through the looking glass and into her own oddball oasis. The lip-sync assassin from season 10 Kameron Michaels continues to light the dance floor on fire. As the hostess with the mostest, Asia O'Hara substitutes for Momma Ru and keeps the evening moving as a breezy pace.
Directed by RuPaul and Jamal Sims (who also choreographs), RuPaul's Drag Race Live! delights by allowing the audience to believe they're in control of the competition, whether every line is scripted or not. Several new parody numbers, co-written by RuPaul, Tom Campbell and Leland, include the rousing "Losing Is the New Winning" and the anthem "Phenomenon" and are available on iTunes and other streaming services here https://orcd.co/rupaullive. Mini and maxi challenges help make the evening feel genuine and the pit crew features sexy moves, including one member who stands out as a classic dancer, Nick Lemmer.
Being a highly-charged election year, RuPaul edifies without patronizing, spotlighting the necessity that her flock get to the election booths on November 3rd and have their voices heard.
Tickets for RuPaul's Drag Race LIVE! can be found at https://www.ticketmaster.com/artist/1841269?venueId=467116&camefrom=CFC_CAESARSENT_FLV_RuPaulsDragRaceLIVELasVegas
Photo Credit: Erik Kabik (Opium), Jenelle Jacks (O), Erik Kabik (Opium), Denise Truscello (RuPaul),