I fancy myself a massive Cirque Du Soliel fan. Doesn’t hurt that thanks to a program last Fall during BlogWorldExpo, I had the chance to round out my Vegas Cirque experience and finish seeing all the shows (my review of Love you can catch here).
What I didn’t know then was that Cirque was preparing to embark on a brand new show of epic proportions called Viva ELVIS – a living tribute to the King himself in the city that continues to worship his existence. The world premiere at Aria on Feb 19 was a star-studded affair capped by an after-party at Haze; and though the photos below focus on the celebs and glitz, this post (continued below) is actually about the show itself — the reason you might want to book yourself a little trip to Vegas to experience it yourself.
First let me begin by saying – if you have never seen a Cirque du Soliel show, do yourself a favor and go see one – any one of them. No words, photos, or videos by me or anyone could EVER do the live experience justice. (I took my 4-year old to see KOOZA, the traveling show, and the kid STILL talks about it a lot – it is really that mind-blowing).
Unlike the others that came before, Viva ELVIS is different from the other five Cirque shows in Vegas. This show blends the traditional elements of, say, a typical Las Vegas show (theatre-style seating, linear plot – even a narrator, outrageous dance and costume) with the stupendous jaw-dropping, show-stopping acrobatics Cirque is known for. I’d argue the other Vegas shows are less traditional than Viva ELVIS – in Love, for example, the seating is built in a round with sails above for lots of projection; the “plot” (if you can call it that) in both Mystere and KA is wildly crazy with outlandish costumes to match. While the other shows keep you guessing, in Viva ELVIS you won’t be asked of much except to sit back and enjoy the show.
Front and center of this show: Elvis’ music. The show creators did a nice job of selecting just the right ditties for the performance without turning it into a “Best Of” showcase. From rockabilly to blues to gospel – the show had it all. Best part? Who do you think they got to SING all these iconic songs? THE KING HIMSELF. The producers actually teased out the vocal tracks of orginal Elvis’ recordings and that pure, unadulterated Elvis sound is paired with live female vocal performers. I seriously don’t know what kind of sound system they have in that theatre, but it literally sounds like Elvis is belting out his songs live throughout the performance. The energy from the music (also helped along by a VERY enthusiastic drummer who channels Animal from the Muppets) is unreal. The concert alone – especially for those of us who never did see Elvis perform – is worth the show ticket.
However, it’s the artistry of the stunts that draws me to Cirque and keeps me coming back and I was not disappointed. Some new tricks (flaming lassos, boot camp calisthentics) are a hoot as well as the trampoline number done by men outfitted in Jack Black Nacho Libre-esque suits. My favorite bit was the beautiful and sensual (and not even a tad bit tawdry) pole dance tango. This show, to me, does not seem focused on the stunts as much as the other shows — but acrobatics isn’t the bread and butter of this show. The story of Elvis – his highs, lows and tender moments as told through his music – is what’s on display. In fact, one of the most poignant moments is during “Can’t Help Falling in Love”: upon a gigantic wedding cake we see home footage of Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s courtship and wedding ceremony. The emotional grip is a nice, touching addition to the entire experience.
In summary, the is the type of show is that perfect for Elvis fans (duh), traditional show-goers, and maybe first-time Cirque adventurers – a lovely initation into the majesty of Cirque. For well-seasoned Cirque fans who love the thrill of the stunts, just be prepared this show offers a little different twist – less on the stunts perhaps and more on the overall wow of a high-styled, polished show. But keep in mind – Where else are you gonna see almost 100 blue suede shoes boogie-ing all at one time? Or dozens of sequined Elvis-style jumpsuits with larger-than-life plasticized pompadours? That, my friends, is only an experience Cirque du Soliel Las Vegas can bring to you. Enjoy it.
For my updated guide on all the shows – click here.
Disclosure: I had the amazing fortune of being an invited guest to this show (don’t ask me how – I was dumbfounded too!) I received two complimentary tickets to attend the premiere. The organizers did not ask me to blog or tweet about my experience but so many people have asked about the show, I wanted to write down my thoughts. The opinions expressed in this post and on this blog are my own and my disclosure policy is here.