For a while now, I've been looking forward to an upcoming business trip to Las Vegas. It's been on-again/off-again countless times in the past week alone, but it appears to be on-again. At least I hope so: I've already bought my show tickets.
Actually, "looking forward" isn't exactly accurate. I detest Vegas. I've been there three times before, and each time have been horrified by the vulgarity, the sheer bald-faced crassness of the city. If you take everything that's wrong with America, exaggerate it, and put a thin but respectable veneer on it, you basically get Vegas. Plus, I've never really been a gambler, and have no interest whatsoever in becoming one. (I guess I'm just too good at math.)
But the first time I was in Vegas, I discovered Cirque du Soleil, specifically in the form of Nouvelle Experience. I was floored. I sat transfixed by the artistry and theatricality of the show. Cirque has since become a bit of a cultural cliché, but back in 1993, it was all fresh and new. Now, whenever I go back to Vegas, I make sure to take in the latest Cirque show. The second time I was there, I saw Mystère, and on my most recent trip I caught the lavish but somewhat overrated O.
But it's getting hard to keep up with the Vegas manifestations of the Cirque franchise. Mystère and O are still playing, and have since been joined by the adult-themed Zumanity, which I've not yet seen, but which won't be playing any of the days that I'm in town. So, next week I'll be taking in KÀ and The Beatles: Love. Then there's the latest Cirque show, Criss Angel Believe, which is currently in previews. That's six Cirque shows in one town, folks. Can you say "license to print money"?
Cirque du Soleil has become a bit repetitive over the years, and the holiday-themed Wintuk in particular was a disappointment. (Read my review.) But my friend and fellow blogger Steve On Broadway has raved about The Beatles: Love, so I made it a must-see for this trip. And I've been pretty impressed with the videos of KÀ that I've found around the Web, mostly on YouTube. Yeah, Cirque has lost some of its freshness and ability to surprise. But the shows are still gorgeous to look at, and there's always at least one act in each show that blows my mind.
I also have a ticket to see Penn and Teller, of whom I am also a longtime ardent fan. I saw them on my last Vegas trip, as well as on tour, and I'm an avid viewer of their Showtime series "Penn & Teller: Bullshit." Yeah, you can't get much more different from Cirque du Soleil than P&T, who are all about shattering illusions, whereas Cirque is all about building them up. But I think the combination of the two opposing cultural forces will make for a very entertaining trip.