There are a few absolutes in Las Vegas entertainment. One is, if you roll with the Wheel of Death, you invite comparisons to Cirque du Soleil. It’s a lead-pipe cinch.
“Celestia,” the tented wonder at The STRAT, carries an inescapable similarity to the Strip’s predominant production company. I say this from experience, of course. The first Cirque show, and among the first production shows I’ve seen in Las Vegas, was “Mystere” in 1996. When “Celestia” trotted out its opening number, on a stage that looked like a vast oil-painting, I was reminded of the original delight of “Mystere.”
Ever since, Cirque has set the bar high, metaphorically and artistically.
That early act in “Celestia” was indeed flexible high bar, with a female acrobat being catapulted airborne by two chiseled gents operating the apparatus. Impressive, but boy-howdy, have we seen this before. The show has developed several human-balancing and contorting acts. The employment of the high bar, frequent use of trapeze, and aerial silks are all familiar among today’s Las Vegas stage shows.
While those acts might not have been invented by Cirque, they have been advanced and performed prominently in the company’s 25-year history on the Strip. Those acts, or numbers that are undeniably similar, are also routinely displayed in “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace, “Opium” at the Cosmopolitan, “V — The Ultimate Variety Show” at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood and “Wow — World of Wonder” at the Rio (“Celestia” uses a bow-and-arrow act; “Wow” closes with Silvia-Siliva’s own death-defying archery routine).
But even in the face of the similarities to those shows, “Celestia” is a lot of fun to experience as its primary characters embark on a celestial path filled with dazzling acrobatic performances, though I suggest not getting tied up in any storylines.
Certainly, it’s an ideal show for all ages. The grandiose, 30,000-square-foot tent provides a genuine, circus atmosphere, even as the air conditioning is no match for 100-plus-degree temperatures, and high-rising metal pillars on either side of the can block your view. The lighting is terrific, and videos played on the tent’s surface impressive. The show employs a live band and the sound is refreshing and refined.
Strat officials are justifiably proud of the venue, joking that its new production is the longest-running tent show in the city; one remarked to to me that’s because that show’s Spiegeltent isn’t really a tent.
Not unnoticed as “Celestia” opens, the “Fuerza Bruta” tent at Excalibur is being hauled away, numbing evidence that even great, tented, acrobatic-themed shows can falter on the hyper-competitive Strip.
“Celestia’s” most persuasive selling point is that it’s Cirque quality on a budget, starting at $29 without fees up to a top price of $89 (up to four times less expensive that Cirque’s non-discount rates). The show’s pricing is more in line with “Wow” and “V,” neither of which boast a show-closing Wheel of Death act.
As for that number, you’ll still find it in “Ka.” But that’s at MGM Grand, long way south on the Strip, and it costs a whole lot more.
Wayne Newton is due for more medical attention, with a right-hip replacement surgery set for the first week of July. The hip replacement is expected to be far less of a concern than his spine surgery that forced him to miss most of his May shows at Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace.
Newton and the hotel have already put his next set of dates, from July 22 through through Dec. 30, on sale.
And, keep watch of Newton’s movements during that run. As he said during our recent episode of PodKats!, he and his family might live at Casa de Shenandoah. “We’re deciding what we’re going to do with it, move back, open to the public or sell it,” he says. “I built it, and I built it for the loves of my life, and I’m not talking about my family, but my horses and antique car collection, which bring back such incredible memories.”
He especially wants to live near his horse stables. “That’s what kept me sane, my horses, through all of the ups and downs in my career.”
Newton moved off the legendary, 40-acre property on Sunset and Pecos in June 2013 to develop Wayne Newton’s Casa de Shenandoah museum and property tour, which closed to the public in 2018.
Romantic mayoral dinner
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and ex-mayor Oscar Goodman celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary Thursday night with a romantic dinner at Piero’s Italian Restaurant. She had the swordfish; he tried the veal. Said the former mayor, who is forever smitten, “We were like two high-school kids.”
Vinny “Vin A.” Adinolfi of Bronx Wanderers at Linq Hotel’s Mat Franco Theater burned out his voice and is under vocal rest until further notice. Colin Cahill, late of “Sex Tips” at Paris Las Vegas, has been filling in for Vin A. in the family rock ‘n’ roll revival … Through not formally announced, Cahill is set to play the Singing Cowboy in the upcoming Spiegelworld “Atomic Saloon Show” at Kraken Music Hall at Grand Canal Shoppes. That show opens in August; Cahill is a star in the making … I’m intrigued by SPI Entertainment CEO Adam Steck’s remarks that the new Thunderland venue at Excalibur will feature strolling “Bevertainers,” who performed and served drinks at the Rio until the program was discontinued a few years ago … You know who was made an offer to buy the Fuerza Bruta tent? Spiegelworld founder Ross Mollison. He had no interest. He already owns a tent.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.