Two new shows are looking to Asia to add a little Eastern intrigue to the local mix, if not Asian customers.
“Avant Garde” opens Tuesday at the Plaza’s vintage showroom as a variety show with international appeal. It’s directed and headlined by Juliana Chen, a Chinese-born magician who came to live in Las Vegas by way of Canada.
And due by the end of April is “Senses,” a Chinese dance show promising groundbreaking visual technology in a new 427-seat theater under construction at the Fashion Show mall.
Producer Jon Fondy calls “Avant Garde” a “United Nations of entertainment,” including French mime Jerome Murat and American magician Kevin James. The show will have a minimum of spoken English to appeal to international visitors, Fondy says.
The production also is the rare Las Vegas title outside the topless dance genre to have women at the helm. Working with director-star Chen is choreographer Joanie Spina, who spent 11 years working with David Copperfield, most of them as his lead assistant.
The revue is producer Fondy’s first as an ongoing live offering. Since relocating from a television career in California, Fondy has helmed variety television ventures such as “Stars Among the Angels” benefits for foster care organizations.
“Avant Garde” is so family-friendly that Fondy plans an outreach to local schools and is considering a Saturday morning matinee.
“Senses” will anchor the Giordano Theatre, a new venue near the Fashion Show’s food court, which also plans to host television productions and an afternoon show, “Black Magic,” from illusionist Arian Black.
Angelo Giordano previously produced “Voices” with Lani Misalucha at the Las Vegas Hilton. He also opened a movie theater there for independent films that never found its legs.
Giordano says his new theater will have a 280-foot video wall on the mall’s exterior facing the Strip. Video screens on the stage will be capable of holographic effects, such as a body painting of a lion appearing to leap from a woman’s body.
The video effects will be in higher definition than Celine Dion’s holographic duet with Stevie Wonder, he says.
“Senses” is the creation of Dennis K. Law, a retired doctor who now produces “action musicals” such as “Monkey King,” billed as “the first Chinese rock musical” when it debuted concurrently with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Giordano says he is hoping to attract some of Cirque du Soleil’s audience with a lower price point of $40 to $70. However, he doesn’t expect to pull more than a fourth of his audience from Asian visitors.
“Asians don’t normally like to see other Asian shows,” he says. “Asian men particularly love Western women.
“I definitely want the Asian audience,” he adds. And, while “I believe the Asian population will support us, I don’t think they are going to be our dominant customer.” …
Speaking of Asian audiences, Cirque du Soleil has announced it will pull the plug on “Zaia” on Feb. 19 at the Venetian Macao. After 3½ years, Cirque and casino operator Las Vegas Sands have given up on the title that was running at 40 percent attendance.
While the bustling casino floors of Macao have propped up the bottom lines for Las Vegas-based companies, Asian players are so focused on gambling they are not as interested in a diverse resort experience.
Las Vegas audiences for “Mystere” and “Viva Elvis” will see new acrobatic numbers transplanted intact from “Zed,” the Cirque show that recently closed in Japan.
But while the company is “attempting to reassign our artists as much as possible,” says Cirque spokeswoman Renee-Claude Menard, “Zaia” performers who end up in Las Vegas shows would be retrained to perform existing content.
Menard also says not to expect either “Zed” or “Zaia” — or even a hybrid of the two starting with “Z” — to replace “Viva Elvis” at Aria. She also shoots down talk that the permanent version of the Michael Jackson tribute “The Immortal” would be redirected to Aria from Mandalay Bay to replace “Elvis.” …
For all the talent on display in Las Vegas, some of it escapes to the cruise ships, says Lynn Garlock-Wright. And so a new monthly event she is promoting, “Jack Walker and Friends,” will be “capturing a lot of that talent when they’re not on the ships.”
It’s a variety show hosted by the titular Scottish singer, a veteran of both “Jubilee!” and the bygone “Folies Bergere.” The debut, Valentine-themed affair is 7 p.m. Sunday at Aliante Station, featuring Laurie Caceres and Natalie Brown. The second is Feb. 19 at Green Valley Ranch with George DeMott and Mark Giovi.
The monthly shows at each property are sponsored by Garlock-Wright’s employer, RMI Management, and will be heavily promoted within RMI’s residential communities. However, the shows are open to anyone who pays the $15 admission. Reservations (not advance purchases) can be made at brownpaperticket.com.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.