Acts: Manipulation by Michael Moschen, Chinese poles, aerial bungee, Main a Main hand-balancing, Korean poles & fast-track trampoline, Taiko drums, trapeze.Aaaoooowww! The new offering from Cirque du Soleil is terrific, spectacular and all the synonyms for peachy. For its 10th anni, the Montreal troupe got its first permanent U.S. location, in a comfy, attractive theater specially built at Vegas’ Treasure Island hotel. Siegfried & Roy, next door at the Mirage, are understandably the reigning kings of Vegas spectaculars; with “Mystere,” Steve Wynn, chairman of both hotels , scores a double whammy. Unlike previous Cirque productions, “Mystere” won’t tour — perhaps because it has 70 performers (nearly twice the previous amount) and features bigger-than-usual flourishes, like a giant snail that comes onstage for no apparent purpose except to wink at the audience. These touches are fine, but Soleil really is not about the spectacle of stagecraft, but about the spectacle of physical skill and imagination. And this show, which ranks with the best of Soleil’s offerings, really delivers on both counts. The evening kicks off with Taiko drummers being lowered onto the stage, and never lets up from there. One acrobat weirdly zooms 80 feet above the stage by climbing poles on his hands and feet, followed by acrobats similarly scrambling up 20 poles simultaneously. Six people perform an aerial ballet on bungee cords. It’s hard to picture these things, and hard to describe them. These are amazing, dreamlike feats, performed wordlessly and in surreal costumes, accompanied by Rene Dupere’s effective, live music (which sounds like New Age on steroids). Cirque du Soleil is a circus for those who don’t like bigtops. Its costumes, lighting and music are all non-traditional, and familiar routines are given strange, amazing variations. Artistic director Gilles Ste-Croix and director Franco Dragone fill every inch of the big (120-by-70-feet) stage: If people are not doing acts, they’re cartwheeling, running or dancing; even the stage area under the trapeze net is filled with performers. There are a few quibbles. There seems to be an attempt at a plot that is more murky than fascinating, and frankly you want to smack the three adult clowns dressed as infants. So it’s not a perfect show. But it’s close.
Cirque Du Soleil Mystere
(Treasure Island Theater, Las Vegas; 1,525 seats; $ 42 top)
Guide, Guy Laliberte; artistic director, Gilles Ste-Croix; writer-director, Franco Dragone; costume designer, Dominique Lemieux.
Set, Michel Crete; composer-arranger, Rene Dupere; choreography, Debra Brown; lighting/special effects designer, Luc Lafortune; sound, Jonathan Deans; Sedov trapeze act creators, Pavel Brun, Basil Schoultz; manipulation act creator, Michael Moschen; musical director, Benoit Jutras; projection designer, Pierre Desjardins. Opened Jan. 14, 1994; reviewed Feb. 20; runs indefinitely.