Triumph, It Runs on Steam, at the Las Vegas Hilton should run out of steam right now, before any more unsuspecting patrons pay up to $100 to see it.
First let me preface this review with the idea that I WANTED to like this show. I am a huge fan of smaller, independent productions. I like to see shows that take risks and are not the same old song and dance.
In addition, I had high expectations for this show, knowing that the Tony Award winning choreographer Chet Walker was behind the movement. Experienced performers Raphael and Larry WERE the concept masters.
Unfortunately there was not much to like about the show.
The sets were interesting and the few minutes before the show began, complete with clanking, steam and music, led to great anticipation.
The contemporary jazz dance sequences in the mold of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Wade Robson (who choreographed Brittany Spears and Criss Angel’s Believe, among other things) were too simplistic and poorly executed by what I would consider capable, trained dancers. Either Walker does not understand the precision it takes to pull off what appears to the audience as quirky, unmatched lines or the dancers did not execute the vision. Either way it was sloppy and unimaginative.
Perhaps it was the size of the audience (probably less than 100 seats filled) that precipitated the lackadaisical performance; perhaps it was the bland nature of the choreography. Unfortunately it did nothing to highlight the obvious talent of the dancers.
The concept, a break in the time continuum and heroes to repair it, is sound but the execution was disjointed and seemed to be trick driven, rather than story driven.
First Larry and Rafael meet their challenge and seem to be able to mesmerize an innocent young girl with a giant-sized silver Christmas ornament. (I assume it was supposed to be a crystal ball or other oracle, however it didn’t cut it.) A simple levitation and we were off and running.
However, by the time we watched the duo pop a girl in or out of various shaped boxes, at least four times, it was clear that these magicians had only small bag of tricks. Unfortunately we live in a city that carries the legacy of Siegfried and Roy and you can catch David Copperfield at the MGM, so the standards are pretty high, however I’m not sure this magic would be enough to satisfy a junior high assembly audience. The best trick was when they shrunk Jessica.
Rafael did a bit of high flying, capitalizing on his heritage of trapeze artistry. Unfortunately his silks hit the guy in the head in front of me and he scared a couple of young ladies in the front row by getting too close. Again, not bad, but not great. If you want to see great silk work, Cirque du Soliel is your best bet. This is not even in the same league.
The Victorian-era costumes were great – authentic, quirky and fun. But it went downhill fast from there.
The first section on the journey along the time continuum was China and I hope no one from that country has seen the show. The costumes were poor, stereotypical renditions of Asian attire. The worst costuming came in the Persia and Mayan sections of the journey. The Persian costumes for the ladies were horrible. Belly dancers at Las Vegas Athletic Club classes have more authentic looking costumes. The girls’ skirts looked like they had been made in home economics class for a high school play.
By the time we got to the Mayan section. I was hoping they entire cast would fall into an active volcano it was so bad. If your dancers are not buff, please keep them clothed. And waxing of chest and back hair for men is a must in today’s open shirt society. If you’re not willing or able to wax those follicles, DON’T take off your shirt for money. Spray tanning could have helped too, but by that time it was too late to salvage the performance.
In the final sequence Larry and Rafael levitate the same girl, this time over a sword. The other performers put her on the sword and it was obvious that they were “hooking” her on to it. When she dropped on the sword, I was just hoping it could have been me.
For their final trick the duo swap places, handcuffed into a magical box. They tried to make it audience friendly by placing the box in the seating, however, the audience members in the first four rows couldn’t see what was going on without turning around and when they did they were blinded by the spotlights. Taa Daa!
This show is conceptually sound, but none of the elements are up to the caliber you find in Las Vegas. Until these performances reach a much higher level, this show should only play at county fairs and school assemblies. I’m not even sure it would play well in Peoria.