‘Ignite’

Antonio Restivo doesn’t sing, at least not onstage. And that’s too bad, because man, that dude looks like the god of heavy metal incarnate.

When he throws back the hood of his cloak to reveal himself, all biceps and incendiary gaze in "Ignite," he is one of those old album covers come to life.

For that matter, his whole harem of barbarian babes is a fantasy painting by Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo that escaped the confines of an airbrushed Chevy van when someone went one bong load over the line.

Restivo is what you imagine Ronnie James Dio must look like when you hear his heavy-metal wail. And if it was in my power, I would see to it that Heaven & Hell (the new name for the reunited Dio era of Black Sabbath) hires the entire cast of "Ignite" and takes the whole production on the road to tour their new album, "The Devil You Know."

But as it is? "Ignite," Restivo’s self-produced showcase at the Greek Isles, seems like a production wrapped around something that isn’t there yet. If Restivo really were a rock star, it would snap into focus. In lieu of that, it has a lot of cool stuff but no central hook.

Restivo calls the revue a "fire fantasy," a fair name for the main selling point of fire effects, which give some familiar magic illusions a new twist. But it’s not really a "fire show," because he can’t do anything that would burn down the old Debbie Reynolds showroom.

And it shouldn’t be called a magic show. The illusions are too common, fire or no, to be the main attraction. And while the revue is sexy, it’s not topless cabaret either. And there is no comedian or no specialty act to directly engage the audience by speaking to them.

What is it then? Maybe a less-campy version of "Bite," the Stratosphere topless revue where Restivo once reigned as the Lord Vampire. (He’s still the black knight in "Tournament of Kings" at the Excalibur).

This one doesn’t have the schlocky castle set or the stripper-dancing to classic rock. But it’s the same basic premise: Restivo (the only male in the show) presides over a coven of babes who vie for his attention and make the whip-cracking queen (Stacy Jones) jealous when they start to catch his eye. The dude knows how to party.

It must be said that "Ignite" will be more impressive to occasional show-goers than to those who have seen the classic illusions in other shows or variations of the silk-fabric and hoop acrobatics that turn up in a lot of nightclubs and shows. The silk-twirling is very well done here by Lira and Alina Leiva.

Two elements that come closest to something original involve Priscilla Trammel’s belly dance inside a revolving wheel of fire, and a hand-balancing act usually done by men, here performed by Christi Fiara and Svetlana Ghetman.

The action moves quickly and the music is aggressive by Vegas show standards, heavy on the Rob Zombie. And the production design creatively incorporates video projections to prove a small budget doesn’t limit imagination.

I know this next suggestion wouldn’t happen because of various business reasons. But these are hard times, so it’s only half facetious to propose a merger: "Ignite" could combine forces with another underdog outsider, "Freaks." That show’s skin-skewering would definitely provide the "oomph" missing here.

Or what about this "Monster Circus" thing at the Las Vegas Hilton? They’ve already got the rock band Restivo needs. Why duplicate the circus?

Whatever it turns out to be, "Ignite" just needs some kind of external combustion to help it catch fire.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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