'Magic Mike Live' is a different type of revue
The show starts exactly as you’d expect, given the male-revue formula. A raunchy emcee barks a welcome, and the stereotypes strut in—the firefighter, the cowboy, the cop; you get the idea. Plucked from the crowd, a young woman becomes the eye of a ridiculously costumed, violently gyrating hurricane. She is, to put it mildly, not aroused.
So, she pleads for help from … a unicorn with the disembodied voice of Channing Tatum.
That’s the intro to 80 minutes of shattered expectations, courtesy of Tatum’s hit production Magic Mike Live. It celebrated two years and 1,000 performances at the Hard Rock Hotel on April 12, taking guests on a journey as deeply funny and affirming as it is sexy.
The woman pulled from the audience turns out to be your guide, as she helps a hunky waiter named Mike discover the nuances of making women feel beautiful, powerful and seriously in the mood. Played alternately by Chelsea Phillips Reid and Lyndsay Hailey, Magic Mike Live’s female centerpiece connects the dots between inventive numbers.
Staving off one more seduction attempt by the fireman, Chelsea muses about the appeal of a hot man in simple jeans and a T-shirt. A baker’s dozen of such men appears, eventually losing their shirts while dancing to Fat Man Scoop’s hip-hop classic “Put Your Hands Up.” These guys are legit, from acrobatic breaking and sultry Latin footwork to Tatum-style stripper moves that draw from his young life and the movies (and forthcoming Broadway musical) they inspired: Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL.
There are plenty of striptease elements in the show, but the thrills of bare skin, whipped cream and a strategically placed hat are balanced with messages about respect and genuine romance. The cast dances down a staircase in perfectly tailored three-piece suits. They play piano, guitar and drums while their fellow dancer croons a ballad. They give long-stemmed roses as well as lap dances for pink-paper unicorn dollars. And when they lend Chelsea a hand, she exclaims: “Thank you for supporting me while I very much saved myself.”
This is a male revue that gets women—evidenced by its incredibly diverse representations of sexiness. That goes for the looks of the cast members and the range of material they attack on the stage, stairs, balconies, bar, ladders on the walls and straps tumbling from the ceiling. Want an exquisitely choreographed contemporary duet in a rainstorm? A hypnotic aerial routine with BDSM overtones? Pelvic fireworks to Ginuwine’s “Pony”? You’ve got it. And you probably won’t notice that the guys spend more time clothed than not.
Early in the show, when Mike has just begun his lesson in love, Chelsea asks him to make an audience member feel beautiful. He replies that she’s so much more than beautiful.
“Thank you for just being you,” he says sweetly, believably, while Chelsea comically writhes with pleasure. It’s an easy laugh, but it gets at what makes Magic Mike Live such a unicorn in Las Vegas’ stacked entertainment landscape.
Hard Rock Hotel, 7:30 & 10 p.m. Wed.-Sun., starting at $49 plus tax and fee, 18+. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster