Rule of thumb in the new Las Vegas: Stage the indescribable. It’s nearly impossible to explain the magic of Cirque du Soleil’s “O” or to fully recount the antics of Blue Man Group, the two must-see shows on the Strip. “Storm,” the first Vegas-originated extravaganza to be launched since the invasion of the out-of-towners, comes from the same blueprint. But since “Storm” was born and bred where other, more traditional rules have guided showrooms for almost half a century, it is bridled by the producers’ need to include overly familiar material and dance steps rather than allow the wild stuff to flow freely.
Despite the lack of an East Coast pedigree — show does, however, come from talent and management that has worked with Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan — “Storm” demonstrates that a collection of acrobatics, stunning costumes, original music and varied choreography is an attractive option for the new Vegas showrooms. “Storm” has been adjusted ever since it opened in “Chicago’s” stead nine months ago; show has been pretty much locked in since November.
It is at its best when it gets the audience to look skyward. Hanging from above, during assorted routines, are the show’s marvelously disciplined acrobats. There’s a percussion assault with dancers and wall rappellers beating on oversized instruments during a drum solo by Gabriel Santana. In the finale, a femme singer sports a festive dress that flows ceiling to floor and creates a maypole for dancers. The colorfulness and regimentation of the routines is not easily described.
The four original songs of George Noriega, Hector Infanzon and Pat Caddick are rich and urgent, wholly avoiding the New Age wash that seems to accompany so many other plot-free shows. Live rock band is a potent force throughout, particularly the trio of horn players who moved about the stage, audience and sidelines.
“Storm” has its problems, though: It tries to make something new out of worn-out pop hits such as “Oye Como Va” and Estefan’s “Conga,” duplicates choreography seen on the video for Martin’s “Cup of Life” and requires the male leads to ham it up with outdated concert antics such as encouraging the audience to scream. It’s that sort of moment that shortchanges the ticket buyers. Best uses of hit tunes comes when ensembles dance around mirrored dressing-room doors on “Mambo No. 5” and in the rain during “Techno-Cumbia.”
Half-baked premise concerns the elements — ice, heat and water — though music and costumes are only occasionally weather-themed. Arty videos on two screens introduce themes for the live action, showing the obvious (deserts, flames, ice-capped mountains) and the odd (kids playing soccer on a beach). A disinterested woman’s voice — often muffled in the reproduction — proffers some pedestrian stream-of-consciousness observations on the upcoming conditions; with the exception of the rain-soaked dancing during “Techno-Cumbia,” the video montages and action feel out of sync with the themes. (Why would the Brazilian samba “Mas Que Nada” be played during the ice segment?) Maybe that will be addressed the next time this show is retooled.