Las Vegas Still the Greatest Get-Away
First “Mystere” mystified, thrilled and entertained. Then “Love” centering on a Beatles theme, threw me back to sixties nostalgia. It was a time travel experience. The only thing missing was a full blown flash back!
Then there was “KA”!
The show is set in an ancient Chinese genre featuring an entire language created for the production. KA is an oriental version of Shakespeare complete with love interests, war and tragedy.
The fabulous MGM hotel houses a $200,000,000.00 theatre that is a Cirque-Du-Soleil extravaganza. As you’re escorted to your seat one is overwhelmed with the sophistication of the stage area. The show is happening beside, above, as well as on the stage itself. Actors glide above you from one side of the stage to the other. From the moment you sit to the time you leave you’re in KA.
No less than five stages create illusions of ocean waters, vast mountains and battle fields. Actors climb as high as seventy-five foot vertical mountain sides; fall over a hundred feet through virtual ocean waves. At the bottom of the stage unseen are huge air bags cushioning planned falls or stop deadly accidents. The choreography is spectacular. The music scores akin to a Chinese Rogers and Hammerstein.
We were privileged to go back stage at KA to interview Lionel Hamel, one of the stars of the production.
The unique thing about Cirque is that the number of Canadians performers. The company hails from Quebec. Lionel’s parents still live there. He finds home a great retreat refuge having the contrast of Las Vegas to compare. There were cautious responses regarding feelings of Quebec separation. Wisely he answered that USA living offered greater objectivity than not having lived outside of the Province.
We were with Lionel from walking into wardrobe, until out-fitted in full make up with costume. It was a transformation process of painstaking meticulous concentration, taking hours to achieve. To complete the transformation, he literally glued Velcro to his head. Then a wig was securely attached.
Viewing KA back stage enhances appreciation for the talent of those who give birth to one of the most gripping theatrical experiences you’ll ever explore!
When you see the actors on stage it appears that some of the costumes are short of covering all the necessary areas. However the truth is they are wearing flesh colored body suits. Complete with tattoo and muscles that create perfect looks for the performer. Even those appearing bare foot aren’t. They’re wearing shoes made to look like sandals with bare feet. There are three identical outfits per cast member. The magic definitely starts back stage!
Lionel spoke of the dedication it takes to perform at this level. It becomes your life involving proper diet. Exercise to stay in peak shape is required to physically maintain performance ability.
The dance slash battle scenes are exceptional with acrobatic feats defying imagination. Sometimes spears, sometimes batons, but the juggling of same is demonstration of mathematical impossibilities. Watching this production, one would think there are over whelming numbers of accidents. Thankfully there have been relatively few.
Lionel coordinates music for the entire production displaying incredible passion. When not on stage he plays guitar in the orchestra.
Lionel Hamel is a Las Vegas star, musician, Canadian Ambassador extraordinaire.
Criss Angel of Mind Freak fame is the latest extension of the Cirque family performing “Believe,” at the Luxor. The stage is another example of opulence Las Vegas style. The eclectic music, dance, bundled with magic is best described as a Picasso hallucination while on mind altering drugs. A true gem not to be missed by art minded individuals.
The best eating in Vegas is still at Ellis Island Casino. This local unassuming casino overlooked by the masses, serves the best ribs in the country. The secret sauce combined with open pit charcoal cooking is impossible to beat. The fourteen inch plate is too small to hold the massive portions. Chef Larry wouldn’t reveal the sauce recipe, or the home made root beer secret. Be there from 4-10 PM, their food will make love to your palate.