Open your eyes to the world of 'Mystère'
There is only one show to see if one has either never seen a Cirque du Soleil show and needs to decide on a place to start, or has seen them all and wants to get back to basics. Mystère is the original Las Vegas Cirque production, having set up its big top inside Treasure Island more than 25 years ago. It continues to present the essence of Cirque du Soleil twice nightly, five days a week as its performers defy gravity, build human towers with the aid of a seesaw, take trapeze artistry into the 21st century and bounce off trampolines with practiced precision.
As of July 1, Mystère had been performed 12,125 times. For the 25th anniversary, it experienced a makeover, with revisions made to the acts, acrobatics, choreography, costumes and music. Aerialists, dancers, singers and performance artists exude youthful energy, while several cast members are veterans who perform each show as if it is their first. The role of troublemaking lead clown Brian Le Petit is primarily handled by former Mystère artistic coordinator Brian Dewhurst, who created a character instantly recognizable for his popped collar and fright-wig hairstyle. Band guitarist Bruce Rickerd has been providing soaring string work since the beginning and set a Guinness World for playing 10,000 consecutive shows.
Dramatic live music is one of the key features of Mystère, as musicians play high above the stage and vocalists emit the wordless lyrics that contribute to the feeling of exoticism in the air. Despite being thrown out of the venue multiple times, Le Petit keeps coming back to disrupt the proceedings, much to the discernment of ringmaster Moha-Samedi. Still the show goes on. Individual acts demonstrate extraordinary strength, grace and stamina. Teams of performers such as servile footmen Les Lacqais dazzle with synchronized acrobatics, oversized babies compete with Le Petit for laughs, while the big bang of a giant taiko percussion instrument ties all the proceedings together.
Mystère struck a chord with audiences when it opened a quarter-century ago in an entertainment landscape populated by magicians, lounge acts, and showgirl revues. There would be nothing like it until Cirque du Soleil’s “O” debuted at Bellagio five years later, setting a precedent for themes beyond the realm of surreal circuses. Zumanity explores eroticism and sensuality in a cabaret-inspired environment, while KÀ brings a different world to life. The Beatles LOVE and Michael Jackson ONE apply the Cirque approach to create all-encompassing atmospheres dedicated to the Fab Four and King of Pop, respectively. The newest, R.U.N, opens in October, and promises a new direction in the show.
For aficionados who’ve seen it all, Mystère brings it all back home. The formula created by Cirque du Soleil founders Guy Laliberté (the Guide) and Gilles Ste-Croix (director of creation) and director Franco Dragone encapsulates the essence of Cirque du Soleil and continues to foster an energy first sparked decades ago by Montreal street performers. Current senior artistic director Tim Smith continues the legacy, ensuring audience members experience a sense of wonder whether they are seeing Mystère for the first time or returning to relive the magic.
Treasure Island, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Sat.-Wed., $69-$125 plus tax and fee. 702.894.7722