Elvis Presley is being commemorated 10 shows a week in the most recent resident Cirque show in Las Vegas. “Viva ELVIS” is a glittering, multimedia-encrusted production incorporating dancers, vocalists and acrobats in a tribute to the life and music of the hip-swinging king of rock ‘n’ roll.
Similar to Cirque’s “The Beatles LOVE” at The Mirage, “Viva ELVIS” is one of the more dance-y shows on the Strip. Coupled with some impressive and innovative acrobatic swag, the show makes a strong visual impression (although Cirque’s “where do I look??” phenomenon isn’t entirely sidestepped.) The dancing itself includes a good measure of character, which put the dancers into the inner circle of the story instead of relegating them to the chilly regions of eye-candy.
“Viva ELVIS” began with a quick one-two punch from dancers and acrobats in “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” which comprised an energetic opener that gave the audience a friendly shake before the real story kicked in. Although the massive shoe, appropriately blue and suede, seemed a bit kitschy, the acro feats centered on it were attention-grabbing and the synchronization from the dancers was commendable.
“One Night with You,” an aerial pas de deux performed on a suspended metal-framed guitar against a background of stars, was a beautiful and sincere change of pace.
This was one of the outstanding strengths of the show itself: myriad emotions were fitted alongside one another, creating a comprehensive mosaic of Presley’s life. “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” another aerial duet, followed in a similar vein.
The enormous shoe at the top of “Viva ELVIS” wasn’t the only novelty. “Got a Lot of Livin’ To Do” employed seven trampolines in a delightful, superhero-themed number that underscored the importance of dreams. “Saved” was an exuberant piece that made good use of umbrellas and “Bossa Nova Baby” ushered in chill-inducing hand-balancing.
Cirque made it clear that multimedia is a huge priority; film clips interspersed the show and were integrated quite well. The transitions between numbers were fantastic and the pacing of the show was seamless.
“Love Me Tender” was a feather-soft rendition that showcased lovely vocals and “Can’t Help Falling In Love” featured sugar-coated pointework and partnering. Some truly exceptional band members made their presence known in “Burning Love” and cathartic contemporary choreography was well-represented in “Suspicious Minds.” “It’s Now or Never” was a tip-of-the-hat to the sexy side of Presley’s music, with some novelty spots and a smoldering pole trio.
A couple numbers stood out as high points in “Viva ELVIS.” “Jailhouse Rock” was an absolute hit with a captivating set, strong dancing, amazing acrobatics and excellent production elements. “Return to Sender” was equal parts precision and character work and high-flying acrobats were the cherries on top.
A cerceaux duet in a pair of giant wedding rings to “Love Me/Don’t” was a sweet and simple break for overstimulated eyeballs. “King Creole” and “Viva Las Vegas” were both big and raucous and a smart Western number even employed a flaming lasso.
Overall, “Viva ELVIS” was a nice balance of tried-and-true Cirque fare and creative contrivances. The strong dance element gets two vertical thumbs and several factors, like having a character narrating the show as Presley’s manager, made this a more coherent story than other Cirque endeavors. The tracks themselves are tastefully remixed and reproduced and the musicians are top-notch. Crowned by the shiny production elements and sheer out-of-the-box-ness, “Viva ELVIS” is a solid addition to fabulous Las Vegas.