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New York New York
Reviewer: Ricardo Barberini
Guy Laliberte, Artistic Director

Dominic Chapagne, Director and Show Concept Writer
Rene Richard Cyr, Writer Director
Andrew Watson, Director of Creation
Thierry Mugler, Creator and Costume Designe

Not being a gambler, I do not visit Las Vegas that often, even though I love the vibe and the glitter of the city.  The last time I saw a show in Vegas was Le Reve at the Wynn's Hotel, which I considered a poor imitation of Cirque de Soleil.

This time around, my friend suggested that we see the adult themed Zumanity.  I had mixed feelings about that. Zumanity was billed as an adult version of Cirque de Soleil.  Several years ago, I had the opportunity to see Crazy Horse in Brussels, Belgium and I assumed it would be along the same lines.  This is not casting dispersions on Crazy Horse, which I found very entertaining.

When we arrived at the gate, we were warned that the show contained profanities and sexual innuendos.  That was just before entering the theater with tickets that stated in bold letters that they were non-refundable!

The show started with Antonio (Antonio Drija from Venezuela), a fake Italian guy with the 1950’s hairdo who took being sleazy to a new height.  If you walk around downtown Naples, in Italy, you will see many Antonios.  Antonio was equipped with flashing bulbs on top of his genitals.  He picked on some men and women on the first row and got them to do a simulated eating of his genitals.  He was soon joined by two obese twin girls who went around sitting on clients’ knees and gyrating their heinous bottoms on their male victims.

To put the audience in mood, the next set of actors were a typical French man with loose morals and his small sexless wife (Shannan Calcut) with a fake blonde wig and cheap slippers.  They also tried to entertain the audience by their burlesque like acts.  These five characters came and went throughout the show to gross out the audience.

The master of ceremonies was a tall transgender dressed as a woman.  The originator of the role one, Joey Arias, who sounds and looks like a man is not there anymore. We could not find out who the performer was on that night.  She/he was so good that, unbelievably, some members of the audience were fooled by his appearance until the end.

Then the show started in earnest.  

I do not think that the show really needed the obese twins or the French guy but I actually developed a liking for Antonio.  He reminded me of a friend of mine who was just as sleazy and smarmy as Antonio was and yet I enjoyed his company. If you take the erotica out of the show, you realize that this is really a part of Cirque de Soleil.  The actors are Cirques performers first and foremost but mixing that athletic ability with an element of sex and a dash of naughtiness makes all the difference.

As in most long running shows of this nature, there is some turnover in the actors during any month or even week.  The people that I saw on February 20,  may not be around in April.

Since this a show without a real plot, there are many non-contiguous acts embedded But the underlying talent of the creators continues on. 

Some of the memorable moments. 

Hoops.  I think the most amazing circus act was the hula-hoops by the very attractive Julia Kolosova.  She started using two hoop rings, did a fantastic gymnastic performance going up the cable to the roof, and back upside down and sideway and after many heart throbbing moments, completed her tour-de-force with about eight rings. Julia’s act was augmented by the incessant drumbeats of the percussion artist who anticipated every movement of her act.  She did not even get undressed until at the finale when she removed her bra and engaged in an orgy with the rest of cast members.

Rings. There was this very talented guy, Jesus, who did wondrous things with a huge ring.  He gyrated so fast inside the ring that, at times, your eyes deceived you and it seemed like a contiguous sphere rolling around.

Water Bowl. Two young girls dancing inside and outside a giant sized glass bowl.  On Oriental and one Caucasian, with an ugly tattoo on her shoulder.  In many reviews this is considered  Zumanity’s best number.  The dynamic duo danced so gracefully as if they were real sirens, with a touch of lesbian love. 

Wrestle/Dance.  Not to be undone by lesbian love, we next had a wrestling dance of a black and a white male couple who wrestled furiously inside a cage only to realize, in the end that they were really attracted to each other.  The performance ended with a passionate kiss between the two, much to the amazement of the mostly straight audience.  

Midnight Bath.  It was another performance of erotica coupled with strong music inside a bathtub.

Other acts followed such as the male striptease dancer, who was a favorite with some of the ladies and other relatively minor performances.

What I liked most?  Well, the singer who stayed out of limelight most of the time.  We believe she was Corinne Zarzour.  She was in the shadows as she sang the most provocative songs.  She had a hideous wig on and never approached the audience close enough to be identified.  In the shadows, she looked like a young Elizabeth Taylor with a spiky wig. 

What I liked best?  The drummer who I believe to have been Larry Aberman and the horn players.  So, powerful and so talented.  Larry made the ground shake beneath our feet, literally!

What I did not like?  The stupid performance by a masked girl who went up and down a rope pretending to have multiple orgasms as she was performing her twisting and turning tasks.  She did not even take her mask off at the end.  I guess she thought it would add to the fantasy.

Now, I am not a boob man, but most of these girls had tiny tits.  Other than the transgender master of ceremonies, the performers, male or female, were mostly short and had small busts.  No Las Vegas Show girls here, except for the two obese girls in the beginning who gyrated their asses on a few unlucky clients.

The funniest moment of the show was at the end, when a middle-aged history teacher from the mid-west was picked by Antonio and joined the orgy.  For a few minutes, the lady lost her mid-western inhibitions.  The animal came out and she started humping Antonio, who was lying on his back, with the fury of a coyote in heat while the captivated audience egged her on.  I do not think that I have every laughed so much for years. 

So, what is my final verdict as a critic?  Compared to Le Reve, it wins hands down.   Actually, it is a wonderful show.  It has its stupid moments and fillers like the masked girl dancing that stupid rope dance or the guy with the horn pretending to be a satyr, but overall the show was great.  The music is strong and vibrating, the signing is wonderfully over-the-top, and the dancers are good.  And, after all, it is a show of acrobatic skills with an impish edge.  I cannot emphasize enough about the talented musicians.  Throughout the show, the sound resonated through my being harking back to the time when our distant ancestors emerged from the hot primordial warm fogs of African forests and discovered the difference between sex for procreation and erotic sex.  And, somehow, I do not know how, through her voice the singer Corinne Zarzour carried me to a fantasyland of my own.   I was so smitten by her voice that I could sense the initial steamy encounter between a man and a woman who fall in love for the first time. It somehow felt that if one could listen to her voice, forever, one would never die and live in eternal bliss of euphoria.

I am not usually given to hyperboles about movies and shows. I am not paid by the studios or the producers to promote a movie or a show.  One thing I could not understand though.  The Cirque de Soleil is half owned by the Kingdom of Dubai.  Why did a Moslem Kingdom invest in this show?

So, skip Le Reve and any other show and go see this one.  In fact, fly to Las Vegas just to see this show!

Our ratings:
For Dancing:                          4 Stars           Excellent

For Acrobatic Ability            4 Stars            Excellent

For music score                     4 Stars           Excellent. I wish they would allow 5 Stars 

For Story line                         3 Stars           Excellent

For acting                               3 Stars           Excellent

Overall                                   4 Stars           Excellent. Moviebuffs highest rating.

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