Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Weekend in Vegas

If you're looking for lurid details in this post, move on.

There's nothing to see here.

This is not a tale in which I get hopped up on Apple-tinis and hang upside down from a stripper pole at the Pussycat Dolls Lounge.

Nor I am asked to blow on the dice of a handsome stranger at the craps table, who then goes on to win big and to plant a grateful kiss on my lips and a thousand-dollar chip in my cleavage.

Does stuff like that actually happen in Vegas, anyway?

I go there every year and most of the folks I see wandering around the casinos are average-looking middle Americans in blue jeans and fanny packs, sometimes carrying very long-necked glasses of unspecified fruity, frozen cocktails. Oh, and a few women in bridal gowns on the arms of young men in tuxes occasionally stride through a hotel lobby or sit beside each other at his-and-hers slot machines. But all those "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" shenanigans happen somewhere out of my purview.

Some of what I DID experience in Vegas this weekend:

1) Good and Bad Weather
On Saturday, there were lots of clouds in the sky and LOTS of heavy, gusty wind. Ostensibly, the day's high was 75 degrees, but it felt more like 55! So much for spending the entire day at the pool. We went to Plan B: shopping the Forum Shops at Caesar's. Which was diverting enough, but OH how I wanted the sunshine.
Fortunately, by Sunday the clouds were gone and the sun shone bright. I spent most of the afternoon poolside, sipping a tasty Mojito from Neptune's Bar and reading "Elements of Style" by Wendy Wasserstein.

2) Celine Dion's show at Caesar's
I really wanted to love this show, because Celine Dion is just so darn nice. She's so sweet and genuine and down-to-earth - she's like that nice soccer mom from the carpool, except with a powerhouse pop-belter voice and designer gowns. (And when I allow myself, I can really wallow in the overblown romanticism of her hit songs.)

Unfortunately, her girl-next-door appeal is nearly drowned in an overblown, pretentious spectacle of a show with dancers and Cirque De Soleil acrobats all around her performing strange, embarrassing choreography that has nothing whatsoever to do with her songs.

Take for example, one number in which Celine sits in a comfy chair surrounded by buff, shirtless young men in tight pants who sort of writhe around on the floor while she sings. It's a supremely silly, overwrought moment, and the wonderful thing is - she knows it! A larger-than-life man-eater like Madonna would play this scene straight and serious as if making some powerful statement about female sexuality. But Celine finishes the number and strides tomboyishly to the lip of the stage, making a derisive, sputtering noise as if to say "Boy, that was really silly and embarrassing and way too much work!" And the audience laughs warmly in response, because we know that's how WE would feel if we had to sit in that chair with those boys wiggling around us in faux ecstasy. She's one of us!

The most bizarre moment in the show is when Celine decides to "funk it up," so to speak, ditches the Galliano gown for tuxedo pants and a ponytail, and hip-hops around the stage with a cover of Stevie Wonder's "You Wish." There is something SO wrong about a skinny, white French-Canadian woman singing about "when I was a leetle, nappy-headed boy." But you can't fault her energy and enthusiasm. Celine is there to please.

And even though she's done this show for over 3 years, she still seems genuinely astonished by and grateful for her audience's adulation and wild applause.

3)La Reve at the Wynn
Despite what you may think from the Celine review, I actually LOVE me some Cirque de Soleil. Their shows are the best thing in Vegas. LaReve isn't' technically a Cirque de Soleil show, but it was staged by CdS's former creative director and is indistinguishable from anything that the CdS does. An aquatic show performed in the round, it is very close to the style and spirit of "O," the long-running CdS show at the Bellagio. And ultimately just as mind-blowing.

What I love about CdS is this: as someone who can only express herself artistically through words (and, arguably, her choice of shoes), I'm in awe of people who can create moods and stories and dream landscapes through movement, music, costumes - everything BUT words. And these folks do it brilliantly.

And, finally -
4)You want to know what stays in Vegas?
What stayed in Vegas on Monday - about 3 and half hours longer than it was supposed to - was my plane back to Chicago. The lightning and thunder and hail around O'Hare kept the airlines from sending any planes there till late in the evening. As a result, I stumbled across my threshold around midnight last night, and I'm just about ready to nod off here. So no more Vegas tales tonight.

No comments: