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‘On pins and needles’: Usher’s director nails halftime show

Usher’s Super Bowl halftime show was a thrillfest, and not just for the 60,000-plus in the stadium and worldwide viewing audience. But also for the performance’s director.

“I was on pins and needles the entire time,” Baz Halpin of Silent House Productions said. “But it was a great outcome.”

The show featured a cast of Alicia Keys, Jermaine Dupri, H.E.R., Ludacris and Will.i.Am; along with a marching band, pole-dancers, a drumline, showgirls, and a circular stage was pieced together in about five minutes.

“If you were in the stadium, you saw how many people it takes to execute,” Halpin said. “I was on pins and needles the entire time, but it was a great outcome.”

Usher opened with his own hit, “Caught Up,” and “Love In this Club,” joined by the band. Keys came in with, “If I Ain’t Got You,” and the two collaborated on their 2004 hit, “My Boo.” Dupri and H.E.R followed, the latter brandishing a guitar. As she took the stage, Usher slipped into skates for “OMG” with Will.i.Am. Lil Jon and Ludacris joined for, “Yeah!” as the marching band spelled out the song.

“Cramming that many songs into 12:30, and making it flow so effortlessly is a challenge,” Halpin said.

The headliner was a dancing, and rolling, fashion statement. He wore a white coat with silver beads and a train, side-pleated pants and Portofino sneakers and a matching train (all of this effectively outlined in a pre-show story by Vogue). Usher also donned a black-and-blue, sequined-splashed suit. For that outfit, he donned matching rollerskates.

He also stripped topless from the white outfit. Fittingly, he is fit.

To start the afternoon at Allegiant Stadium Andra Day sang “Lift Every Voice” to open the live-entertainment performances on the field. Post Malone played a swirling “God Bless America” on acoustic guitar. And Reba McEntire aced “The Star Spangled Banner,” I song she’s perfected over the past 50 years.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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