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Britney Spears

OK, all you armchair physicists, wrap your pointy heads around this one: How do you make something disappear that was never really there to begin with?

It’s a brain bender to be sure, but one gal knows the answer, that fount of quantum chemistry in sparkly hot pants, one Britney Spears.

Midway through her sold-out show at the MGM Grand on Saturday, Spears climbed into one of those disappearing boxes that carnies and magicians have been employing for centuries and poof!

She was gone.

Right along with the contents of your wallet.

Soon Spears would reappear, sort of.

You could see her on stage, looking about as thrilled to be there as a kid with a nasty Baby Ruth habit awaiting the dentist’s chair.

It’s hard to imagine a performer of Spears’ magnitude ever being so thoroughly disconnected and disengaged from her own adoring fan base. She seems to have such disdain for the very people who pay her salary, it was as if the 15,000 or so Britney die-hards who overpaid to see her on this night had spent the entire evening insulting her mom and whipping batteries at her kids.

Seven lip-synced songs into the show, Spears addressed the crowd with a curt, "What’s up, Las Vegas?" She’d repeat the phrase a little while later, and that was it in terms of audience interaction.

Barely 10 minutes into the show, Spears was already leaving the stage for one of several time-killing dance interludes — woo-hoo, a bunch of dudes doing kung fu moves to the beat. Can’t wait to see some little people juggling bowling pins!

This series of impossibly dull routines seemed to only exist so that the night’s clockwatching main attraction could take a smoke break, and no doubt she was lighting her cigs with all the Benjamins that the crowd had forked over for tickets.

To rub salt into the gaping wound that was this sham of a concert, Spears even left the stage at one point so that the sponsor of the tour, Virgin Mobile, could flash its logo at the audience for a few minutes.

So crass and cynical was this brazen money grab that you’d almost start to feel a little bad for Spears’ fans if they didn’t lap it all up which such perplexing fervor. Call us stick in the muds — we’ve been branded much worse — but the mere sight of Britney, her presence alone, is just not enough to carry an hour-and-forty-five-minute show.

And yet, that’s pretty much all you get from one of her gigs these days.

Sure, the set list was plenty potent. From the hard funk of "Get Naked (I Got A Plan)" to the dance floor heart attack that is "Womanizer" to the pure pop gold of "Toxic," Spears comes armed to the teeth with an arsenal of high-caliber hits.

So why does it feel like she’s firing blanks from the stage?

Probably because Spears often seems lost in her own show, perpetually engulfed in a phalanx of dancers, doing nothing to infuse even a smidge of personality into her largely winsome repertoire.

She seems thoroughly lifeless, a leggy automaton, a Barbie doll still enshrouded in her plastic packaging.

Spears gripes in her songs about how no one knows who she really is, and yet she does absolutely nothing to spell it out for us.

"I’m Miss Bad Media Karma," she mock sang during "Piece of Me."

"Another day, another drama," she mouthed, as if she was somehow just a hapless bystander when it comes to all the negative press she courts with half-assed shows like this.

Whatever, Britney.

Roll your eyes, snap your gum.

Your initials are B.S. for a reason.

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