Review of:





LE RÊVE, AS A mesmerizing three-dimensional full sensory presentation, cannot easily be described in mute, two-dimensional words. If there was a way to communicate holographically, maybe, but as a description for you, this review may fall short of my intended mark. The show's subtitle is a 'collection of imperfect dreams,' which seems a misnomer…Le Rêve felt more an intact exploration of the subconscious. In fact, the privacy of the subconscious, for some people, may be where some of the sensuality belongs, rather than in public. No worries. The darkened auditorium holds two-thousand plus viewers, but all eyes are riveted to the action. Alternatively, go alone, sit up high, but definitely marinate in the splendor of this lavish production. Three years in planning, Le Rêve found their 75+ multi-disciplinary cast after two years of auditions worldwide.

The resulting show is nothing short of astonishing in scope and scale. An intriguing costume device, a bit off-putting at first, was the shaved or swim-cap-clad heads of the performers. The anonymity of the performers was disconcerting for me, initially. The form the body presents, without hair, causes an eerie facelessness, as well as allowing placement of bodies in extremely bizarre configurations. As the story of this watery world unfolded, Dragone, the creator and director, used that surreal impact a good deal. One set of acrobats pieced themselves together in Escher-like arrangements. There was a two-dimensional performance by acrobats which made me feel the hair on my neck, as you realize the dome is crawling with people, flattened like lizards and moving like lizards, up, down and around the dome ceiling—that was weird.

I was thoroughly impressed with the overall concept, the acrobatics, the eerie up and down movement of human bodies with state-of-the-art hydraulics, the prevalent use of the human voice in the musical scores, costumes that held their shape when soaking wet and the magnificent skill of the entire cast of 75+ swimmers, dancers, aerialists and acrobats. Hues of red—the color of passion, danger and the excitement of events—dominate costumes, sets and lighting. Dragone expected a lot, and surely got what he designed. These players gave their all. His chosen musicians achieved brilliant accompaniment with their scores, heard on 100 speakers in Dolby surround sound! The Overture drifted around the arena, evoking a wisp of thought of whether it came close to what the Sirens vocally sent across the water to Odysseus. The music supported the various acts, building to instrumental, chorale or percussion crescendos underscoring the impressive movements on the various stages.

There were no singers, or prominent leads. There were some characters, all curiously intrinsic, and yet not really more so than any one player or troupe. The near silent performances and minimum dialogue with the music, lend a mild feeling of voyeurism, despite the early interaction of certain of the players with the audience. The performances start out slowly, with one or two groups picking a part of the circlet stage, water all around, doing separate bits of comedy and interaction with the audience 'poolside.' Layer after layer of stages appear, with the number of swimmers in the water increasing. Cast members and acrobats are added to the circlet stage revealing a water world kingdom, populated by water nymphs, monsters, sea dragons, court jesters, and all manner of odd characters, as unbidden as some of the like in my own dreams. Overseen by a Poseidon-like mage, the action is still in and around the pool. In fact, there is sufficient action afoot to completely distract from the first entrance of the aerialists dropping from the sky—another stage.

The story includes loosely associated vignettes which all gather at the end of the show. Staging is multi-leveled with three more-or-less ground-level entries and a large opening in the huge overhead dome from which the players emerge. There was a bit of help from spotlighting, barely alleviating the fact you were on your own to keep up with everything on all of the stages and screens. At one point, 'charm bracelet'-like strings of players on very long cables cascade down from the dome, just to water level, and are whisked back up, fooling expectations of the eye. As in most of the aerial performances, the unusual speeds and stops, choices of costumes, vehicles and lighting lent a completely surreal feeling quite different from the usual aerial ballets of other shows. Whether from the dome, or the pool, movement was unpredictable, actually breathtaking at times. The lift speeds of the winches were 4–12 feet per second—read fast.

I love water, swimming, diving, boating, gazing. Next best thing is watching those in top form doing that and more with breathtaking skill. Athletes make up the bulk of the company. Swimmers, alone and in troupes, come and go, renewing their numbers constantly, running around the circlet and flinging themselves with wild abandon into the water, flipping out again like seals onto the rocks. Powerful acrobats astound with intricate moves and positions. Mind you, they, and their clothes, are usually wet, or they are performing on wet stage surfaces. To me, given the control necessary to accomplish these acts safely, rather elevates their art to world-class acrobatics. Incredibly, some acrobats swim (or vice versa) and frolic up and down a tiered 'waterfall' as acrobats are wont to do, however in their case, when one of them was tossed off one of their human pyramids, they are 15 feet above the pool, which is where they end up.

On the other hand, picture an aerialist suddenly diving off their trapeze into the pool below! Or lowered below water level and back up, soaking wet, to continue performing. Skill would be the minimum requirement—fearlessness would be best. The stunning dives, performed by 16 divers, were the most dangerous. I wondered if seeing through the distance up to the dome aperture was similar to viewing the distance down from the cliffs of Acapulco. Diving was not simply diving as there was music, lighting and people everywhere—the concentration needed was daunting. Graceful aerial dances on ropes take on another look as the hydraulics yank the spinning dancers from out of the water up into the dome. One whirling couple doused in the pool and rapidly pulled up to the dome spun ever-widening spirals of water sheets, ribbons and droplets showering away from their bodies and drenched clothes, back to pool level under the brilliance of daylight-bright light from the dome. Spectacular.

Le Rêve is an astonishing mix of theatrical components. A 27-foot deep, million-gallon pool with an array of appearing and disappearing portions of stage, lies below a vaulted dome 82 feet above. The dome ceilings were filled with art depictions in huge frames, some seventy-five statues, of the Greco-Roman persuasion, festoon the lighting battens and cantilevered rafters, drawing the eye ever upward into the dizzying reaches of the dome, above which serves as one impressive backstage. As 'in the round' performances must use backdrops and props that do not obscure the view, the performers must continually play from all sides of the stages, even up in the seating. Lighting design was a brilliant combination of focused lighting for the 'action' and characters to be visible to all sides of the area, without blinding portions of the audience. Huge frames ring the upper dome, catching the eye as you realize the cherubs' heads are moving in the frescoes. During the show, the frames open, become windows on the universe, whole constellations and galaxies whizzing by and fireworks during the finale.

The pool is round, periodically partitioned by Atlantis-style concentric circlets of 'stage' space, with roughened decks for traction. Everything in the arena is regularly inundated with water—even then, the water splashing everywhere, falling from the dome above, washing over these performance surfaces certainly lends a quality of danger to all the movement on them, which is constant, really. Your mind echoes with myriad parents' voices admonishing, "Don't run around the pool!" usually expanded to include "Don't run jumping into the pool!" The Le Rêve performers run, skip and do hip-hop, they leap onto or over each other, dance intricate couples routines and elaborate choreographed patterns, do pratfalls and gymnastics worthy of championship competition. The virtuoso dancing weaves through graceful water ballet and aerial feats—performance art at its finest.

One very powerful number of eight men in a circle, 'challenging' by one-upping each other's 'moves' suggestive of hip-hop dance circles around the globe, the culmination of years of street dancers choreography. Another Le Rêve 'dance circle' had powerfully built men in elegant, Asian-style dress with broad cummerbunds, and yards of scarf-like swaths of cloth that covered to the ankle—in Le Rêve red tones.

The young shining faces, so anonymous during the performance, are obviously proud during their bows. It is a disconcerting feeling to finally see their faces up close, with feelings apparent, some chests still heaving, lungs pulling in air. And…then it's over…  

The Le Rêve arena is the permanent residence of Dragone's creation, performed in a new, 1 million gallon water-oriented theatre. No seat is more than 40 feet (12 m) from the stage.
Design: Franco Dragone and Claude Santerre
For more technical information about the theatre, please click here.
Cast: 75+ Players

Director: Franco Dragone
Dragone was a director of Cirque du Soleil and creator of Céline Dion's A New Day…at Caesars Palace. Although not a Cirque du Soleil production, Le Rêve shares many of the characteristics usually associated with a Cirque du Soleil show.
Production — Patrice Bilodeau
Production Designer — Michel Crête
Aquatic Choreographer — Dacha Nedorezova
Choreographer — Giuliano Peparini
Underwater Designer — Jacky Beffroi
Aerial Conceptor — Didier Antoine
Composer and Music Director — Benoit Jutras
Sound Designer — Daniel Léon
Lyricist — Mark Goodwin

The soundtrack of 16 original songs composed by Jutras features a seven-piece band, five musicians, two vocalists augmented by the Serbian Chamber Choir, with additional orchestration and instrumentation—currently available on CD at The Show Shop at Wynn Las Vegas for $24 USD, including tax.

Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. Tickets start at $99 USD
Two shows nightly [times vary]; dark Thursdays and Fridays.
90-minute show—there is no intermission.

Click to listen to 30 seconds of Ouverture and Dreaming.

Reviewed by:

Carol Lane Patterson

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