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November 23, 2014

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Splashdance

Le Rêve’ is a fantastic wet dream

Image

Bill Hughes

The heat is on, and the oppressive return of Las Vegas summer is reason enough for revisiting Le Rêve at the Wynn. The show's lavish aquatic stage — a one-million-gallon circular pool — is a room-sized humidifier. Breathe in the pleasantly chlorine-scented air, settle in with a big cold drink and the outdoor inferno feels far, far away.

It's not just the environment that's refreshing: After five years of famously being revised and reworked by its co-creators, Le Rêve has finally settled into (perhaps) finished form, emerging as a thoroughly gorgeous and satisfying entertainment, an amphibious hybrid of Dancing With the Stars and a live-action version of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Le Rêve, or "the dream," is named for and perhaps inspired by a Picasso painting owned by Steve Wynn — the very one he accidentally poked his elbow through in 2006. Wynn collaborated with Franco Dragone, the visual poet who dreamed up 1998's water-based O at Bellagio. Le Rêve seems like a (successful) bid to outdo Cirque du Soleil at its own game.

Water world: Le Reve

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It's probably best not to insist on the idea of a coherent storyline — just relax and let the stream of dream-logic images float you along. But here goes: As far as I can tell, it's something about a woman's hesitation to surrender herself to eros and love. At the conclusion of a date, our blond heroine is offered a red flower by her suitor; she demurs and he walks away dejectedly. As an unseen vocalist coos "Do I let go, or do I love him?" she sinks — quite literally — into a dream. Seeking, through a variety of terrains, to unite with her dream man, she is guided through her nocturnal journey by companions (or lifeguards) — shades of The Divine Comedy, The Tempest, The Red Shoes and The Wizard of Oz. Really.

At times you might find yourself focusing on the dance passages, from languid adagios to heart-pounding, soaking-wet, skin-tight paso dobles. The score favors the angelic side of world music, with occasional forays into frantic Carmina Burana-esque choirs. The aerialists' slow-motion ascents and descents to and from the heavens vividly evoke the transits of saved and damned souls in Michelangelo's epic fresco "The Last Judgement."

The Details

Le Rêve
Four stars
Fri.-Tue., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., dark Wed. and Thu., $99-$179.
Wynn Las Vegas, 770-9966.

Long ago — in 1985 — it was a big deal when the Broadway producers of Singin' in the Rain actually made it rain onstage. With Le Rêve, Dragone and Wynn go for broke and bust out all the elements, conjuring fire and rain, mist and fog, snow flurries and an unforgettable vertical rainbow.

As with , the stage itself would like to be the star of the show, a technological marvel that morphs from aquarium to terrarium to stardome, from forbidding abyss to shimmering puddle.

Fantastic as this ever-changing setting may be, it can't upstage the sleek cast — which adds scuba-certified synchronized swimmers and divers to the now-customary array of high-caliber gymnasts, acrobats and aerialists.

Costumed in variations on swimsuits, the bald and muscular men in their sleek trunks are just as eroticized as the sleek women in tight tank suits, red heels and Jean Harlow wigs.

Over 90 minutes, the performers fly and float, cavorting like otters and frequently plunging from great heights like sexy cannonballs — I'll confess that the first time I saw Le Rêve, I thought it should be retitled Kerplunk!

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