A VIRTUAL VOLCANO OF VISCERALLY VIVACIOUS VARIETY
Not every rewarding entertainment experience in Las Vegas tries to blow audiences’ minds with a massive cast, dazzling special effects, and topless dancers. Consider V – The Ultimate Variety Show at the V Theatre inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort. The variety show is housed in a small theater, part of a complex of miniature theaters on the Vegas Strip. The performing space is intimate but sufficient to accommodate some terrific specialty acts. The lineup tends to rotate, but patrons can expect to see astounding performers such as acrobats, aerialists, a juggler, a magician, and comedians.
The show is awash in high-grade talent: particular standouts included a superb Ukrainian rhythmic gymnast named Tamara Yeroffyeva as well as a duo called the Aerial Expressions (Chris Santistevan and John Hams). The latter do their act inches above the audience, where a slip would be disastrous for the performers and any spectators beneath them. Russ Merlin presides over one of the guilty pleasures in a variety show – humiliating people taken from the audience. The gimmick is that the “volunteers” sit on chairs on stage wearing stupid rubber masks and are put through some pretty crass humor – but credit Merlin with orchestrating the action so deftly that viewers have to laugh in spite of themselves.
The most mind-boggling act was the roller staking team The Skating Aratas. The young couple operates in a circular area about the size of a large manhole cover, spinning around at warp speed as Nikoli variously grasps his partner’s ankles, arms, and hands – any glitch in their teamwork would send the young lady soaring off the stage like a Frisbee. The audience’s proximity to the performers intensifies the thrills of the act. It’s pretty stunning stuff.
The production is advertised as a family show, which is true as far as the variety acts are concerned. The masters of ceremonies at my performance were a pair of comedians from Argentina called the Crazy Gauchos, who tossed in some inoffensive gay humor that wasn’t exactly X-rated but seemed questionable for a family-oriented evening. Still, this is a fine show for parents and their adolescent offspring.