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Wynn’s show ‘Le Reve’floats on water

Las Vegas show plays out in a pool
/ Source: The Associated Press

Casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn, who brought floating pirate ships and dancing fountains to the Nevada desert and showcased the wildly successful water show “O,” has returned to the life-giving force with the opening of his newest resort.

Besides soaring waterfalls and idyllic ponds, Wynn Las Vegas features “Le Reve: A small collection of imperfect dreams.” The artful, acrobatic show by Franco Dragone, Cirque du Soleil’s former creative director, plays out in a pool of water instead of a stage and premieres Saturday.

“What I am offering the audience is a journey through a field of dreams,” Dragone told The Associated Press.

“Le Reve,” which means “The Dream” in French, tells the story of an “everyman” character named Wayne and his dreams. Guiding him through his journey is Morpheus, a character reminiscent of an ancient warrior. Along for the ride are the Four Angels, a comic quartet “who enter the world and are fallible in every way,” said John Gilkey, who worked with Dragone on developing the characters.

“They come down into this world with every intention to guide Wayne on a wholesome journey, but they fall prey to every temptation along the way,” Gilkey said.

“The theme that crosses the show is really how men can be great and little, how men can do beautiful, great things like walk on the moon, and at the same time do bad, ugly things like war,” Dragone said.

One of the most powerful scenes in “Le Reve” evokes a cold, winter night. As snow falls, Wayne searches a city park for a friendly face, only to find nightmarish figures at every turn. Another scene celebrates the strength of the human body, as men begin climbing an enormous tree, swinging from branch to branch and launching themselves high into the air before falling back into the water.

The score, by composer Benoit Jutras, provides a haunting backdrop, with a mixture of live singing and recorded choral music from Serbia.

WaterworldThe Wynn Theater lends an intimacy to the show. Housed in a theater-in-the-round — a rarity for Las Vegas — with no seat more than 42 feet from the “stage,” the audience is pulled into the production. Because of the theater’s circular design, there is no backstage and no room to house elaborate structures in the wings. Instead, performers and sets appear from the depths below or from the soaring space above.

“When you enter this theater, you enter this enclosed world,” said Louis Parenteau, president of Dragone’s company. “You have a real intimacy with the performers. It’s as if you are in their world.”

Submerged at first, a series of lifts form a stage when needed. The lifts rise and sink, break apart and form a massive fountain for the finale. Nearly 175 technicians and other staff are needed to support the 68 performers in the show. The theater’s centerpiece is the pool, filled with 1 million gallons of water and 27 feet deep in the middle. Lights reflecting off the water turn scenes from serene to scary, as special effects simulate rain, snow and fire.

Overhead, a soaring dome completes the sense of space. Lining the cupola are dozens of illuminated forms, mannequins suspended in mid-flight. Live birds soar above, while synchronized swimmers dance in the waters.

Trisecting the 2,087-seat theater — large by both Broadway and Las Vegas standards — are channels of water, branching from the main pool, that flow beneath three massive clock towers that house the production’s live band.

For safety reasons, the lifts were designed to dry quickly when raised out of the water. Costumes had to be durable for those performers who stay immersed in water for much of the show. Others had to be fitted for harnesses for aerial scenes.

In many ways, “Le Reve” feels like Cirque. Dragone, who left the Canadian-based company a few years ago to strike out on his own, was the man behind such legendary Cirque shows as “O,” “Mystere,” “Alegria” and “Quidam.” But unlike Cirque, Dragone relied very little on makeup, so you see performers’ faces and emotions a lot more than in his previous shows with Cirque.

Dragone would not disclose the production’s cost, but shows on the Las Vegas Strip average around $30 million to $40 million.

Tickets are $110 with nightly performances Thursday through Monday.