Nobody is more anxious to be onstage at Wednesday night’s premiere of Ricky Martin’s “All In” residency than Ricky himself. Even more than entertainment officials at Park Theater at Monte Carlo, more than his fans and more than hotel employees who wish him the best of success.
“It’s full-on insanity,” Ricky told me in an interview during the final three days of rehearsals leading up to Wednesday night’s show opening. “I don’t have a life. I live in the theater, and I wake up every morning at 6 a.m. I bring my kids to school, then from there we go straight into the promotion-and-rehearsal schedule.
“I am so pleased with what’s happening. I’m working with an amazing group of musicians and an amazing group of dancers. Creatively, I have a stellar team, and we have Park Theater for us to do whatever we want because we’re not dealing with the limitations that sometimes a tour gives us.
“When you’re on the road, you have to load in and load out before and after the show, and that is heavy for the crew. But since we don’t have to deal with that, we can literally bring into the stage all the toys and any production tool that will make this a bigger spectacle.”
Ricky is here with his fiance, Syrian-born Swedish artist Jwan Yosef, who has contributed his artwork to the production. The duo announced their engagement in November on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Ricky has twin sons Matteo and Valentino born by a surrogate mother in August 2008.
Ricky says they are his biggest critics now that they know he’s a pop star and often sit backstage during his shows and offer comments about each production. “All In” is under the guidance of director Jamie King, who has handled world tours for Madonna, Britney Spears and Rihanna and the highly praised Bruno Mars Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2014.
Jamie was here in Las Vegas for the three-month run of Michael Jackson “Immortal” touring show by Cirque du Soleil, and that’s where I began our Q+A with Ricky:
You have Jamie King as your show director. What does he have you doing?
I’m so proud of this production. It’s something that I’ve never done before, and I am very proud of the tours that I’ve presented in the past, but this show takes it to another level. Obviously, we don’t want to spoil it before the first night, but you’re going to see unreal stuff that is very beautiful.
You’re going to see unreal tango that is very special. We’re going to play with my culture and fusion. I’m going to go back to the Caribbean where I grew up, and I’m going to bring back that Afro-Antillean sound that helped me go around the world and present my shows.
Obviously, the hits, we have “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” we have “She Bangs,” we have “The Cup of Life,” we have “Maria,” “Private Emotion,” “She’s All I Ever Had.” These are songs that became part of the mainstream pop culture here in America, and people still ask me to perform them. It’s a show where people are going to be able to sing a lot, and people are going to be drenched in sweat from how much they’re going to dance.
You’re going to dive into the dance pit every night?
We’ll see what happens. Everything is pretty structured and choreographed, but when it comes to me and choreography, I love improvising, so anything can happen — anything goes.
Are you using the amazing, large wall-to-wall screens at Park Theater with your own new videos?
Are you kidding me? We are using those like there is no tomorrow. We have the biggest stage we’ve ever performed on; this stage is stadium sized with those amazing screens that no other theater in the world probably has, so, yes, we are going to use them in a big way. They are a very important part of the show.
You’re excited and really looking forward to living in Las Vegas through Sept. 23?
Oh, yes! Actually, it’s sporadic. It’s on and off, so we will be commuting from Los Angeles since we live there now. Between the second run, we have to go to Europe, we have a couple of things we have to do in Europe. Definitely, I will take my time. I’ve been touring, but I’ve been coming to Las Vegas since I was 12 years old.
I know the city; you have a beautiful city. I definitely want to take my time and explore the nature of Las Vegas now that we’re here as a family. I will let you know. I will be posting on Instagram everything that I’m enjoying about my stay in Las Vegas.
What’s the timetable for you now leading into the production finally coming to life?
We’ve been here for a week now. We’ve been rehearsing in the theater. Today is our first full-on dress rehearsal, so we’re ready for Wednesday. We’re set to go.
You have two Canadian designers, Dean and Dan Caten of DSQUARED, doing your wardrobe. On Thursday, you are hosting a party for them to open their flagship store at The Shops at Crystals at CityCenter?
They are the best. They outfitted the whole show. I’ve always loved their work, and I’m very pleased. They brought a sense of fashion to this spectacle that is certainly important. They are pushing the limits with what we are using, always keeping good taste … a touch of class, but always having fun. I think the fashion aspect of this show is very important, as well.
Seventeen or 18 dancers as your backup troupe?
That’s right. They come from different parts of the world. We have American dancers, dancers from Spain, from Latin America, from Puerto Rico, from Switzerland, from The Netherlands, so it’s a very beautiful cultural exchange that we’re going to be exploring onstage. You will find a very powerful Las Vegas concert with fast, furious and frenzied dancing.
Yesterday a friend of mine told me, she was seeing the rehearsal, she told me, “Ricky, this is your concert, but more than this being your concert, this is a Las Vegas concert! This is a Las Vegas spectacle!” And I’m like, “This is music to my ears, thank you so much, this is exactly what I wanted to hear.” We’re doing things that we’ve never done before.
You don’t out-Cirque, do you?
No! That’s a different monster! You’re going to be surprised with our aerials, though. I’m not comparing here to Cirque du Soleil in any way, shape or form. The story of Las Vegas, the history of Las Vegas, is beautiful when you have incredible music legends of entertainment that have done a lot here.
We go back to Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion … we just keep naming artists, and I know what they’ve done, and they’ve done amazing things. I want to keep that standard pretty high.
Do you still get stage fright and nerves on the first night?
We’ve been rehearsing for so many weeks now, we’re jumping into our eighth week of rehearsal. Don’t keep me waiting! Would you please get me onstage now? The hurry up and wait is driving me insane. I can’t wait to be onstage, to be honest. Yes, I will have that typical anxiety that everyone gets when they walk onstage, but, man, I want to do this so bad.
What do you hope comes out of this Las Vegas run? What does it do to your life? Does it change your life in any way?
Well, for me, it is very important to say that at this moment in my life, I have a theater, and I am part of the Las Vegas Strip, and to be part of that list of artists who have done their residencies here. I’m a Latino boy from Puerto Rico who has worked all his life.
All of a sudden I have the opportunity to perform in amazing theaters around the world from London to New York to Tokyo to Sydney, and all of a sudden I’m here. That’s mega entertainment. It’s all about celebration, Robin. I don’t know what’s going to come afterward is what I’m trying to say. I know that this is where I need to be at the moment.
I’ve been able to perform in Radio City, I’ve been able to perform at Royal Albert Hall in London and in many performing art theaters around the world that are a very important part of a culture of each of these countries. To be part of Park Theater in Las Vegas, it’s comparable, and it’s very pleasing.
My health is good. I’m strong. I’m taking my vitamins, and I’m getting ready for the dry weather in Las Vegas. I can’t complain. I cannot wait for Wednesday night. We’re going to really party.
I hate to bring it up, but Park Theater is 10 blocks away from the best wedding chapels in the world. Any thoughts of getting married to Jwan while you are here?
You never know what’s going to happen. I laugh about this because I guess the timing of it all would be perfect. Everybody tells me, “You’re doing the residency, you are engaged, and tell me you’re going to get married in Las Vegas?”
You know what? You never know. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m very happy. I’m in love, and my family is here. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I could not tell you right now, but you’ll be among the first to know if so.