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By Judy Thorburn
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Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance
www.theflickchicks.com

 

Viva Elvis’s Official Grand Opening at ARIA Hotel and Casino

Viva Elvis, the seventh and newest production by Cirque du Soelil to open on the strip, held its official Grand Opening performance and celebration on February 19 at its resident venue, CityCenter's Aria Hotel and Casino.

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Elvis fans can rejoice in knowing that his spirit is alive and well in Viva Elvis, a rousing spectacle that celebrates Elvis’s life and music legacy. The show is terrific and I was impressed by the fact that it perfectly blends thirty of the King’s most beloved hit songs with the extraordinary performances of the Cirque cast. Viva Elvis is more like a Broadway show than the usual, surreal, circus-like performances Cirque du Soelil audiences are accustomed to. Nevertheless, Cirque fans won't be disappointed knowing Viva Elvis features song and dance segments that are enhanced by acrobatics, gymnastics and beautiful aerial displays.

The entire production is an eye dazzler featuring talented performers, gorgeous sets, colorful costumes inspired by styles of the ’50s and ’60s, and over the top, giant props. The cast of 70 includes nine musicians and four female singers, but the only male singing voice is from the music icon, Elvis himself, who appears in an array of superbly edited video clips that accompany each musical sequence.

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The mood is set right from the beginning with the curtains opening revealing a giant Jukebox and Elvis crooning Blue Suede shoes as dancers dressed as energetic and lively bobby soxers take to the stage. Afterwards, an actor portraying Elvis' long time manager Colonel Tom Parker (Junior Clay), acts as a guide, taking us on a musical journey through several aspects of the King's life and career.

As the colonel explains, “to understand what he was, you have to go back to his start” , which acts as an introduction to what I think is one of the most poignant and mesmerizing sequences in the show. On one side of the stage a female singer on piano performs One Night With You as a giant guitar descends center stage from the ceiling with two lookalikes maneuvering around the prop in an acrobatic aerial display, symbolizing Elvis' desired relationship with his twin brother, who died at birth.

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The musical journey includes a nod to Elvis's early gospel roots (a gospel version of All Shook Up), an homage to his thirty year film career that first showcases clips of lip locking kisses with female co-stars and musical numbers such Jailhouse Rock, King Creole and a Bossa Nova sequence that pays tribute to Fun in Acapulco.

My favorite sequences in the production are the look back at the era when Elvis was drafted in the Army, which is accompanied by actual footage and photos and Elvis singing Love Me Tender and Return to Sender; a segment showcasing a giant wedding cake with the images of Elvis and Priscilla draped around it as a female singer on top performs I Can't Stop Falling In Love With You, and of course the showstopping finale of Viva Las Vegas, complete with showgirls descending from a staircase, linking Elvis with the entertainment capital of the world and returning him to his throne.

If there is a problem with the show it is the inclusion of a few sequences that don't seem relevant enough or didn't represent a significant phase of Elvis's life. Sure, the display of acrobatic performers dressed as comic book heros, jumping on trampolines, bouncing off walls and leaping from one ledge to another was fun to watch as Got a Lotta Lovin was playing, but, though it represents Elvis' love for comics, as far as we know, it didn't really make an impact on his life.

There is also a cowboy number involving flaming, twirling lassos and a pole dancing segment which don't exactly fit into our memories of the music icon. Most notably absent is any reference to Elvis's palatial Memphis estate, Graceland, which was certainly an important part of his life and continues to draw fans from all over the world.

Nevertheless, as a whole, Viva Elvis, is a crowd pleaser, delivering what audiences expect from a Las Vegas show. Just like the King himself, the production is larger than life, spectacular and entertaining. As with most new shows, there has been, and will be, some tweaking. As it stands, I highly recommend it.

Viva Elvis performs inside the new 1800 seat Elvis Theatre at Aria Hotel and Casino. Show times are 7:00 p.m and 9:30 p.m. Daily, dark on Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets range from $99 to $175 not including fees.

 

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Cast Members
Photo credit: Erik Kabik

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Cast Members
Photo credit: Erik Kabik

Viva_Elvis_Cast_Members
Cast Members
Photo credit: Erik Kabik
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