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October 21, 2014

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Dragone’s ‘Le Reve’ drags on

First there was "O."

Now there is "Uh-Oh," Cirque du Soleil's ... excuse me, Franco Dragone's latest creation to arrive in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

"Uh-Oh" is American slang for, "We might have a problem here."

"Le Reve," French for "The Dream," premiered at the new $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas megaresort April 28 as part of Steve Wynn's ostentatious birthday gift to his wife, Elaine.

The production was not a gag gift, though many have expressed the opinion that if another Cirque-like show comes to town, they will gag.

As with any Cirque du Soleil ... excuse me, Franco Dragone production, "Le Reve" is visually stunning.

The 2,087-seat theater-in-the-round is spectacular, but you would expect nothing less from Cirque du ... excuse me, Dragone.

Dragone probably has done more to reshape entertainment in Las Vegas than any other single individual.

When he was artistic director of Cirque du Soleil, he created "O" at the Bellagio and "Mystere" at Treasure Island, both for Wynn.

Dragone left Cirque (who went on to produce "Zumanity" at New York-New York and "Ka" at MGM Grand) and founded his own company, which created the show for Celine Dion at Caesars Palace.

And now to his impressive resume he has added "Le Reve: A Small Collection of Imperfect Dreams," -- or "Le Nightmare," depending upon your reaction to this surrealistic journey into the subconscious world of sleep.

Unfortunately, Dragone's collection of "imperfect dreams" adds up to an imperfect evening of entertainment, one that will have you checking your watch about halfway through the show to see if the 90 minutes are about over.

All of the action (much of it repetitive) takes place in, around and above a million-gallon tank of water that serves as the stage.

Below the surface of the water are platforms that rise and descend as needed for the various scenes, most of which seem unrelated to each other.

With the story (if it can be called a story) taking place in a dream, Dragone has carte blanche to do whatever he wants to achieve his goal.

During an interview with the Associated Press, Dragone said that goal was to "transport everyone into a world where the theater, performance and audience become one and the same reality."

The transportation must have been by the Las Vegas Monorail, because somewhere along the line it broke down.

But you can't deny Dragone's talent at creating visuals that astound you. "Le Reve" is no different.

As Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep and dreams, guides an "everyman" character through a variety of experiences we witness some wonderfully creative scenes -- a tree that rises out of the water with an old man perched on top, thunderstorms, snowfall, high dives, a female acrobat with her breasts bared.

Pigeons soar.

There are devilish creatures and comedic angels.

Huge nets filled with bodies rise out of the water in one particularly nightmarish moment.

Characters in harnesses walk through the air carrying umbrellas.

Pregnant women rise out of the water, are taken into the air and then plummet back into the pool.

It is all interesting.

But there is about as much emotional appeal in Le Reve as there is at a swim meet -- actually there might be more emotion at a swim meet because you have a connection with the participants.

"Le Reve" is disconnected, unable to go beyond being a mere exhibition of abstract characters, of athletic talent, of choreography.

If you crave a show that stimulates you visually, Dragone's new production is as good as any in town.

But if you are looking for something more, "Le Reve" can put you to sleep.

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