COPPING A STRAT-TITUDE: ‘Celestia’ production newest addition to rebranded Strat resort
Why is a short blond man in a flame-red sport coat bopping my foot with a rubber mallet while I nibble a cocktail hot dog that’s more mustard than meat?
Why is a clown with a horror-chic hair weave, borrowed from the Bride of Frankenstein, pretending to pluck light beams out of my shoulder blade (in reality some LED doodad attached to his fingertip) while I try toothpick-stabbing a chicken nugget mini-thingy?
Because it’s the opening night, pre-show reception for Celestia, the new cosmically-themed (therefore, permissibly inscrutable) production helping relaunch the rebranded Strat (formerly Stratosphere) resort.
And because it’s Vegas, baby — red carpets (light purple, actually), finger foods (pinkie-size) and oddball roaming performers is what we do when a new show muscles in on the Strip scene.
On this evening, it all coalesces into one larger query as the acrobat-laden extravaganza — crossed with dance, comedy, music and elaborate video/lighting touches — commences and I gaze skyward at its limb-twisting aerial antics and nose-thumbing of gravitational norms:
Twinkle, twinkle, little stars, how I wonder what your MRIs look like after you do those stunts that would leave the rest of us in traction for life?
Celestia is not the further Cirque du Soleil-ification of the Strip, but rather a derring-do variation. Assembled by a production company called Intrigue Shows, its creative DNA does include Cirque and Franco Dragone (Le Reve) credits on the resumes of several behind-the-scenes folks. However, the backstage team of producer/director/choreographers is also linked to shows starring Pitbull, Celine Dion, Taylor Swift, Broadway productions and America’s Got Talent (AGT), the latter yielding multiple Celestia acts.
In a tent constructed on the Strat grounds and on a stage framed with trapezoid-shaped platforms, Celestia immediately signals its moody mix of variety and imagination by blending pantomime from a pair of comic-relief characters with a lithe airborne ballet by a female acrobat. Pastel-rainbow lighting and a soundtrack that veers from electronic to operatic deepens the dreamy vibe as more acrobats fly into view, including several in glittery silver bodysuits emerging on platforms in the audience.
Video projections are woven into the visual opulence in touches such as arrows shot into the air that explode into bursts of ceiling images. Dancer/acrobats amplify a sense of drama by scampering across the geometric shapes, banging hand drums with arm-waving flourishes.
One of the more heart-in-the-throat moments features the daddy-daughter balancing act Sergey and Sasha, from seasons 10 and 13 of AGT, who take the notion of putting their heads together to literal, nerve-rattling extremes. Fellow AGT alums include the members of the Sandou Trio Russian Bar (seasons three and 11), who perform their acrobatic magic (also seen recently on the big screen in the P.T. Barnum musical biopic The Greatest Showman).
In perhaps a nod toward not only the show’s overarching embrace of the heavens, but specifically next month’s 50th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 11, a moon landing scenario (complete with a sort-of lunar lander) plays out acrobatically with comedic elements.
Yet it’s the final third of this 70-minute pastiche that weaves the most riveting moments. Billed as “Deadly Games,” the husband/wife knife-tossing duo (and AGT contestants) Alfredo and Anna Silva ratchet up tension, raising the stakes by flinging flaming blades and pulling off an over-the-shoulder arrow-gun shot.
Climaxing the thrills is the rotating, twin-circled “Wheel of Death,” as a pair of acrobats perform synchronized feats of, well, insanity, as it spins in space — hanging off it, skipping rope around it, flipping and double-flipping from its metal beams.
Punctuating the finale? Spritzes of confetti raining over the audience. Naturally.
Oh, and that sound as we exit the tent? Our stomachs.
Anyone seen the waiter with the mustard-oozing cocktail weenies and the chicken nugget mini-thingies?
If you go:
Celestia is performed eight times per week, at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 7 and 9 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. Tickets are $29 to $89. Call 702-785-5394 or 866-633-0195, or visit https://www.celestiashow.com/
To offer feedback on this story or suggestions for future stories on Las Vegas Newswire, contact Managing Editor Steve Bornfeld at SBornfeld@lvcva.com.