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Destination Las vegas

Las vegas: A Thousand and One Shows

One of the most exciting features of the legendary “Sin City” is its boundless, varied range of musicals, theater shows, and circus acts. Join us on a tour of some of the most important current shows.

Por: Roberto Quintero
Photos: Courtesy Caesars Entertainment, David Saxe Productions, Cirque du Soleil

 

Las Vegas is like one big amusement park for adults. Its worldwide fame is evident in its mischievous nickname, “Sin City,” and its image as the perfect place to misbehave, an idea dating back to its inception in the 1930s, when its only attractions were casinos, gambling, alcohol, and prostitution. Today, this tourist destination is much more than partying and excess; it offers a wide range of entertainment activities for families, couples, and friends. In fact, some of the most interesting attractions in town are the musicals, theater shows, and circus acts that have come to dominate the entertainment scene in Las Vegas since they first emerged in the ‘50s. One could go crazy trying to choose among the thousand and one shows. For this reason, we took a trip along the mythical Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as The Strip, to see what was playing, select the best options, and offer some suggestions. Here are our selections.

Jubilee

For historical reasons, we decided to start our tour with Jubilee in Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. This show provides a glimpse of a theatrical genre that had its heyday between 1920 and 1940. Although the revue has not yet disappeared, its popularity has diminished and it is concentrated in the United States, Argentina, México, Brazil, Cuba, England, and France. The revue is a subgenre of comedy that combines music, dance, and short skits, drawing on the styles that preceded it, such as burlesque and vaudeville. We also wanted to see Jubilee first because it is a classic. It’s the only show in town that retains the essence of the first shows in Las Vegas.

It debuted in August 1981 and it is the longest running theater show today. It features eighty-five dancers and singers who, in seven full acts, perform some musical acts that can’t be seen on any other stage in the world, such as “The Sinking of the Titanic” and “The Destruction of the Temple by Samson,” in addition to some special acrobatic numbers. The showgirls, bedecked in sequined and feathered costumes, dancing topless in some scenes, are icons of the old Vegas. Even if the show is a classic, its flawless production continues to amaze. But historical references aside, Jubilee is a very entertaining show that doesn’t disappoint. It was a good decision to start here with a dive into the past.

Vegas! The Show

And speaking of going back in time, Vegas! The Show helps you understand how this tourist spot became what it is today: a great entertainment capital with the best shows in America. In this show’s songs, dance numbers, and entertaining performances, the audience has the chance to relive some of Sin City’s greatest moments and remember the most influential artists who have performed here, including The Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr.), Elvis Presley, Sonny & Cher, and Elton John, to name just a few. We highly recommend this show. It offers classy, elegant humor in simple but hilarious acts performed with incredible comic timing. One slapstick comedy scene performed by the character known as Professor Wacko is particularly amazing. These factors make it an ideal show for the entire family or couples. The musical part is the most surprising. The orchestra is called Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns and it inevitably steals the show. The cast includes some angelic voices. Named “The Best Show in Las Vegas,” by the famous online Broadway World! awards, we encourage you not to miss it. It’s showing at the Saxe Theater at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Jersey Boys

This is one of the most successful musicals in recent years. It debuted on Broadway in 2005 and the following year it swept the Tony Awards (the ultimate award for New York shows). It then travelled throughout the United States on a big national tour. In 2008 it landed in London, Toronto, and Las Vegas, becoming both an international hit and one of the greatest box office smashes on The Strip. It’s currently playing at the Des Arts Theater at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. I knew I should buy my ticket well in advance and not miss out, so that’s what I did.

Based on real life events, Jersey Boys tells the story about the beginning, rise to glory, and eventual separation of the U.S. rock and roll band The Four Seasons, one of the most important musical sensations of the 1960s after The Beatles. The group was known for such hits such as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” among many others. Although it features songs that were very popular with English-speaking audiences, the show’s success is due to other factors as well. It has a very solid script, which at times flirts with the documentary genre, giving weight to the plot. The work is divided into four acts, paralleling the seasons of the year to which the group’s name refers, and a different member of the group narrates each act. In this way, the perspective changes as we discover new facts, adding dynamism to the show and giving it very interesting narrative twists. And, as should be expected in productions of this caliber, the stage design is impeccable. The lighting is incredible! And the cast is extremely talented. It deserves every award it has won.

Cirque du Soleil: Kà

If there is something impossible to do, it’s writing an objective review of a Cirque du Soleil show. The name of this Quebec-based Canadian entertainment company has become synonymous with perfection. It is also a brand associated with Las Vegas, where it has eight resident shows. This creates a headache for yours truly, as I am trying to do the impossible: see all of the shows in one trip. I’m dying to see Michael Jackson ONE and Zumanity, for example. But these trips to Sin City are always short and packed with a very tight schedule. On the positive side, the shows I didn’t get to see are all the more reason to return.

We saw one Cirque du Soleil show during this trip: KÀ, which debuted in 2004 at the MGM Grand Las Vegas. It is an unprecedented spectacle: the technological resources alone, created specifically to stage this work of art (when entering, note that the theater was created specifically for this show), are breathtaking. I prefer to describe it as a dream. For the ninety minutes that it lasted, I had the impression I was daydreaming. A lot of this is due to the fact that all of the action takes place in the air. In KÀ, there is no stage. The acrobats display their art and talent floating in the void. For each scene, this enormous staging area relies on a complex system of elevators and platforms that rise, fall, and at times rotate on their own axes. It’s awesome!

The cutting edge technology combines with acrobatic performances, martial arts action, innovative puppetry, and multimedia projections to tell the epic story of imperial twins, separated by force by an invasion of archers. They are forced to undertake a perilous journey to fulfill their destinies. The plot is not exactly Cirque du Soleil’s strongest, and at times the journey is overshadowed by the intricate acrobatics and amazing special effects. But like all good dreams, the story can go wherever it wants, because the experience is simply incredible.

Absinthe

I think this must be the most politically incorrect show I’ve seen in my life! Although I should rethink this statement so I’m not exaggerating, since political incorrectness is one of my weaknesses. What is certain is the genius of Absinthe, a show that is both intimate and volatile. In the best burlesque style, it presents surprising circus, acrobatic, and cabaret acts, mixed with raunchy humor, making it inappropriate for children and conservative adults.

I never thought that underneath this small red and white circus tent, placed on the premises of Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel, I would encounter such a fascinating universe. From the moment you enter, you are captivated by the magic of the place, which is very theatrically decorated, with mirrors, stained glass, antique objects, and extravagant seats (like a bathtub cut in half serving as a sofa). I bought the cheapest tickets and sat on a large throne made of wood in the last row. Imagine that! But it wasn’t a problem because the tent is small and the stage is circular, so you have a perfect view from any seat. In fact, the action takes place just a few feet from the audience, giving the public the wonderful sensation of being part of the show.

Beyond the incredible performances by the artists and acrobats, and the quality of the music, Absinthe succeeds thanks to its presenter, The Gazillionaire, a character performed brilliantly by Voki Kalfayan, an actor and former Cirque du Soleil clown, and his hilarious assistant Penny Pibbets, performed by Anais Thomassian. Together they form a sharp, explosive duo, making the show pure dynamite. No wonder the Las Vegas Sun newspaper has described it as “the most inventive and daring show to open on the strip in years.” It was also named “The Best New Show” on The Strip by the weekly magazines Vegas Seven and Las Vegas Weekly. And last but not least, the journalist Paul Carr of The Huffington Post said in his review, “If I could only see one show my entire life, I’d want it to be this one.” The only thing left to add is that Absinthe was the show I enjoyed the most. It was a nice way to bring this entertaining night trip through Las Vegas to a close.

*This article was made possible with the support of Caesars Entertainment.

 

Estrenado en agosto de 1981, hoy es el show con mayor permanencia en cartelera. Tiene 85 bailarines y cantantes que, en siete actos completos, interpretan algunos números musicales que ya no se ven en ningún otro escenario del mundo, como “El hundimiento del Titanic” y “La destrucción del templo por Sansón”, además de algunos números especiales de acrobacia. Las coristas ataviadas con sus vestuarios de brillos y plumas, que en algunas escenas salen a bailar semidesnudas (topless), son un ícono del viejo Vegas. Si bien la puesta en escena es clásica, sigue sorprendiendo por su impecable producción. Pero al margen de las referencias históricas, Jubilee es un show muy entretenido que no tiene desperdicio. Fue una buena decisión arrancar por aquí y sumergirnos en el pasado.

Vegas! The Show

Y hablando de revisar la historia, Vegas! The Show le permitirá entender cómo este destino turístico se convirtió en lo que es hoy: la gran capital del entretenimiento con los mejores espectáculos en Estados Unidos. Con sus canciones, bailes y divertidas actuaciones, el público tiene la oportunidad de revivir algunos de los grandes momentos de la Ciudad del Pecado, protagonizados por los artistas más influyentes que han pasado por ahí: The Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin y Sammy Davis Jr.), Elvis Presley, Sonny & Cher y Elton John, por mencionar unos cuantos.

Jubilee
Ballys
Las Vegas Nevada USA
June 20 2011
Photos By Denise Truscello
2 shows

El show es altamente recomendable. Maneja un humor finísimo y elegante, con números sencillos pero muy graciosos, a cargo de intérpretes con un tiempo cómico envidiable. Hay un sketch de comedia física (slapstick comedy), a cargo del personaje conocido como Profesor Wacko, que es alucinante. Estos elementos lo convierten en un espectáculo ideal para toda la familia o bien una salida en pareja. Ahora bien, la parte musical es la más sorprendente. La orquesta que interpreta las piezas se llama Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns, y sin duda se roba el show. Y el elenco cuenta con unas voces de lujo. Escogido como “El mejor show en Las Vegas” en los premios del afamado sitio web Broadway World!, le recomiendo que no se lo pierda. Se presenta en el Saxe Theater del hotel Planet Hollywood.

Jersey Boys

Se trata de una de las obras de teatro musical más exitosas de los últimos años. Se estrenó en Broadway en 2005 y al año siguiente arrasó en los premios Tony ‚Äïmáximo galardón de la escena teatral neoyorquina‚Äï, para luego recorrer Estados Unidos en una gran gira nacional. En 2008 aterrizó en Londres, Toronto y Las Vegas, convirtiéndose al mismo tiempo en un hit internacional y uno de los grandes éxitos de taquilla en The Strip. Ahora se presenta en el Theatre Des Arts del hotel Paris Las Vegas. Con toda esta información a mano, sabía que no me la podía perder y debía comprar mi entrada con suficiente anticipación. Y así lo hice

 

Basada en hechos de la vida real, cuenta la formación, ascenso a la gloria y separación de la banda de rock & roll estadounidense The Four Seasons, uno de los fenómenos musicales más importantes de los años 60 después de The Beatles. La banda fue famosa por éxitos musicales como “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Sherry” y “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, entre muchos otros. Pese a que está compuesta de canciones muy populares dentro del público anglosajón, el éxito de la obra no recae únicamente en ello, pues tiene, además, un guión muy sólido que por momentos coquetea con el género documental, recurso que le aporta peso a la trama. La obra está dividida en cuatro actos, haciendo un paralelismo con las estaciones del año a las que refiere el nombre de la banda y cada acto es narrado por un miembro distinto de la agrupación. De esta forma, el punto de vista cambia conforme vamos descubriendo los hechos, lo cual le da mucho dinamismo y giros narrativos muy interesantes. Y bueno, como debe ser en estas ligas, el montaje es impecable, ¡la iluminación es preciosa! y, el elenco, muy talentoso. Se merece cada premio que ha ganado.

Cirque du Soleil: Kà

Si hay algo imposible es hacer una reseña objetiva de un espectáculo del Cirque du Soleil. El nombre de esta empresa canadiense de entretenimiento, con sede en Québec, se ha convertido en sinónimo de perfección. También en una marca asociada a Las Vegas, destino donde tienen ocho espectáculos residentes. Y esto es un dolor de cabeza para este servidor, que pretende lo imposible: verlos todos en un viaje. Mato por ver Michael Jackson ONE y Zumanity, por ejemplo, pero estas visitas a Sin City siempre son cortas y con agenda apretada. Siendo positivo, estos pendientes se convertirán en la mejor excusa para volver.

 

En esta vuelta vimos una para reseñar: , que se presenta desde 2004 en el hotel MGM Grand Las Vegas. Por los recursos tecnológicos creados especialmente para montar esta obra de arte (de entrada sepa que el teatro fue creado específicamente para albergar el show), estamos hablando de un espectáculo sin precedentes. Yo preferiría describirlo como un sueño: durante los noventa minutos que duró tuve la impresión de estar soñando despierto. Gran parte de esta sensación se debe a que toda la acción ocurre en el aire. En no hay escenario, los acróbatas despliegan su arte y talento flotando en el vacío. Para cada escena, este enorme espacio escénico se va configurando gracias a un complejo sistema de elevadores y plataformas que suben, bajan y a veces giran sobre su propio eje. ¡Es alucinante!

La tecnología de vanguardia se combina con actuaciones acrobáticas, la acción de las artes marciales, innovaciones en materia de títeres y proyecciones multimedia, para contar la historia épica de los gemelos imperiales, separados a la fuerza por una invasión de arqueros y obligados a emprender un peligroso viaje para cumplir su destino. La trama no es precisamente el fuerte del Cirque du Soleil, y por momentos se diluye la travesía entre tanto acróbata talentoso y sorprendentes efectos especiales. Pero como en todo buen sueño, la historia puede irse por donde quiera, porque la experiencia es sencillamente increíble.

Absinthe

¡Creo que es el show en vivo más políticamente incorrecto que he visto en mi vida! Aunque debo repensar bien esta afirmación para no caer en una exageración, ya que la incorrección política es una de mis debilidades. Lo que sin duda habla aún mejor de la genialidad de Absinthe, un espectáculo que es al mismo tiempo íntimo y volátil. Al mejor estilo burlesque presenta sorprendentes números de circo, acrobacia y cabaret, mezclados con un humor lascivo no apto para chicos ni adultos conservadores.