Time was, bubbles on a Las Vegas stage would have involved a stripper (maybe named Bubbles) and a giant champagne glass.
Now, they say Las Vegas isn’t for families anymore. Except that a lot of them live here, and a lot of children still pass through in the summer. Fan Yang wants to make bubbles for them.
"Mega Bubble Show" is a spinoff of "The Gazillion Bubble Show," a surprise off-Broadway hit. Both are just what they sound like: a whole show of a guy blowing bubbles. Really big bubbles, sometimes. Yang recently put 100 members of Oprah’s studio audience inside one.
You’ll have to settle for four children standing under a bubble hoop as big as a trash can lid in the afternoon show at Steve Wyrick’s theater in the Miracle Mile Shops.
"I think the bubble is, somehow, the first magic for every child," says Yang, who is from Vietnam by way of Yugoslavia.
He still had not shaken his own childhood fascination by age 18, when he says he started mixing up solutions, studying chemistry and physics "by myself" — he was too poor to take classes — "just to get a basic science knowledge to know how the liquids work."
His proprietary solution is now on toy shelves at Target, and what began as a nine-day booking in New York last year still is doing business. Yang is trying to get the Las Vegas edition on its feet before launching a third company in Japan. At that point, all three people who know how to perform the bubble show — Yang, his wife and his brother — will be booked solid.
The early word from people who beat me to the bubble show was, "It’s fine for a 15-minute act, but it’s not a whole show." My response would be to invoke the "kids clause" rarely used on the casino show patrol.
It’s a standard usually applied to movies: You probably wouldn’t sit through "The Game Plan" or "Alvin and the Chipmunks" by yourself. But if you’re taking youngsters, and they’re eating it up, you’ll end up having an OK time as well.
Yang uses a flutelike wand to fill up a basketball-size bubble with smaller ones, some of those filled with stage fog. He can send bubble-filled smoke rings out over the crowd and make dancing bubbles shimmy and shake like Jell-O doing the hula.
The show doesn’t get much forward momentum from video segments touting the mystical qualities of bubbles. Yang’s lack of stage charisma doesn’t help either. At one point, he lip-syncs to his own recorded narration. At another, an audience member yelled, "Speak up!"
Before it’s all over, the audience has been thoroughly slimed with a snow storm of bubbles from above, which dry to a white powder. Eat your heart out, Gallagher.
But the grand finale is saved for a bubble-filled blast of lasers. One of the things that put Ozzy Osbourne’s reality show on the map was his Spinal Tap-like tirade about a similar concert effect: "I’m the Prince of (bleeping) Darkness. What’s (bleeping) evil about bubbles?"
Well, nothing. But the potential for corruption is endless. Yang says he has so far resisted offers from magicians to blend bubbles and illusions. But it would add some needed variety.
Since this is Nevada, maybe we could bet on whether each bubble will bounce or pop when it hits the stage.
And there’s the naughty notion of what the Crazy Horse Paris gals could do with bubbles as part of their kaleidoscopic routines. But for now, it’s a kid show. Bubbles the stripper should stay home.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at email@example.com or (702) 383-0288.REVIEW what: "Mega Bubble Show"When: 1 and 3 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.n. Sundays through ThursdaysWhere: Steve Wyrick Theatre, Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. Southtickets: $39.75-$80.45 (777-9974) rating: C+