weather icon Partly Cloudy

“Toni Braxton: Revealed”

Christmas on the Strip probably should be more “Santa Baby” than “White Christmas” anyway.

Toni Braxton has become smart about accentuating the positive during the past year and a half at the Flamingo. No one doing the Vegas thing this week should mind if her rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is less memorable for the singing than for the singer’s peekaboo Santa suit.

Santa has his elves. Braxton has “the cousins,” as she calls them, or alternately, “Siegfried and Roy making a comeback.”

Amid all the hoopla surrounding Celine Dion’s final shows last weekend, Las Vegas’ other working pop-star mom forged on with “Revealed,” a revue that runs on a fraction of the budget of “A New Day …” but likewise has become a smoother, more graceful showcase over time.

Braxton is actually a year older than Dion; she turned 40 on Oct. 7. But she’s still able to work the spangly mini-outfits and the sex appeal cultivated through the steamy videos that accompanied her run of hits in the 1990s.

Just as important is delivering it with personality. Braxton banters with the ringsiders who line a small stage extension like a cross between Oprah and the Rat Pack, to the point that those seats could come with a disclaimer: “You will be in the show. The gents will have their laps occupied.”

“Is there any truth to the seven-year itch?” she asks during a typical girl-talk detour. Elsewhere, she solicits all birthdays and special occasions for a collective singalong.

By this point, most of the crowd is extremely forgiving of a breathy contralto that often was barely above a whisper, albeit an agreeable whisper. Many lyrics were indiscernible to those who don’t know them already. Braxton had canceled two shows earlier last week, and on Friday told the crowd that she was bouncing back from “a terrible, terrible cold.”

It also may explain the anticlimactic treatment of her best-known songs. They just don’t have the resonance they should, considering Braxton sold 8 million copies each of two albums (“Toni Braxton” and “Secrets”) in the ’90s. Could be the cold, but more of the letdown seems to lie in how the songs are handled beyond the actual singing. Time after time, the show seems to head toward a musical peak that never quite materializes.

“Another Sad Love Song” is interrupted to bring an audience member up to sing it. “Breathe Again” becomes the lap-sitting bit, complete with photo ops for the lucky fellows. Finally, at the end, Braxton emerges at the top of the staircase, looking all Diana Ross, ready to knock one out of the park with her biggest hit, “Unbreak My Heart.”

But guess what? The crowd is invited to join in again.

At least the production elements are more controlled than when the show opened in August 2006. The sound system is better, and the 10 dancers are used more judiciously; the five women now kept hidden for the first half-hour to come as a surprise during “Seven Whole Days.” And the choreography has been pruned of some counterfeit Bob Fosse cliches.

“Revealed” has been successful enough that Flamingo president Don Marrandino says it almost certainly will exceed the full two years of its original options — which will take it to August — and likely will go beyond that. Another ’90s-era R&B act is in talks to balance the schedule during Braxton’s time away: Boyz II Men doing a Motown tribute.

Whenever Braxton does close this chapter of her career, there are worse things to be remembered for than a fun, sexy show that reconnected with old fans. But if she uses her time left to bring it all up to the level her stardom once promised, no one would mind that any more than they do the Santa suit.

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

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of Las Vegas theater talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roger Waters melds classic rock, modern concerns

The tour is called “Us + Them” for reasons made very clear. But Roger Waters’ tour stop Friday at T-Mobile Arena also seemed at times to alternate between “us” and “him.”

Mel Brooks makes his Las Vegas debut — at age 91

Comic legend witnessed classic Vegas shows, and his Broadway show ‘The Producers’ played here. But Wynn Las Vegas shows will be his first on stage.