Are out-of-town reviewers blinded by the lights?
By STEVE FRIESS
“They’ve concocted an experience that’s both symphonic and in every way fantastic,” Corliss gushed in a line destined to be bathed in exclamation points and emblazoned on advertisements and probably the marquee for the show for years to come.
Corliss’ commentary came out long before Cirque’s requested embargo on reviews; those of us who went to see it for reporting purposes prior to the February 19 opening were asked not to judge because it was still a work in progress even though Aria and Cirque were happily taking good money from patrons. Alas, as the Time writer’s piece was so uniformly gleeful and full of absurd smiley faces like “no tribute show can touch this one in its level of sophistication and its power of evocation,” I don’t imagine anybody from Montreal complained.
And yet after the show’s bow, the critical divide grew even more pronounced. That is, local reviewers were highly critical and out-of-town critics could not have been more thrilled.
It forced the question: Why? This was the very first time in my memory that I can recall such radically different takes from two populations of reviewers on a Vegas production. When Le Reve and Criss Angel Believe opened, the critical response everywhere was unanimous: They sucked. Anyone and everyone who came into even casual contact with those disasters went forth to warn people in the sternest of language that these were productions unworthy of a tourist’s precious time or money. Likewise, when a show was an obvious masterpiece—The Beatles Love and Garth Brooks spring to mind—everybody everywhere seemed to get that, too.
There is only one conclusion: When it comes to Vegas and Elvis, the prejudice toward stereotype and mockery and the expectations of banal schlock are so intense that anything even remotely elevated seemed to the out-of-towners like brilliance incarnate.
Read the REST at LasVegasWeekly.Com