Makin’ Whoopee

On what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 95th birthday (Dec. 12), Wynn Las Vegas premiered Sinatra Dance With Me (Encore Theater, $69-$89, 7:30 p.m. Mon-Sat, 770-9966). Conceived, choreographed and directed by legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp, the 80-minute show combines Sinatra’s recorded vocal tracks with a live big band while telling an abstract boy-meets-girl story through dance of four young couples.

For the very same reasons it didn’t quite work on Broadway (in a longer incarnation called Come Fly Away), the show feels like a perfect fit for Las Vegas. For example, as the performance progresses, the sensuality cranks up and the costumes get smaller. (Think slinky blood-heating moves, crawling on the floor and skirt-raising, panty-baring lifts.) The New York Times called it “intimacy perverted into exhibitionism,” but in Las Vegas that’s a good thing.

The choreography itself focuses on showstopping moves. The dancers are so weightless they seem to be wearing anti-gravity ice skates. It’s yet another aspect to which those high-falutin’ New Yorkers took offense. But Cirque du Soleil has already proven that acrobatic dance moves have a home in Las Vegas. And here, they work.

Some viewers mumbled after the premiere that Tharp’s choreography was not avant-garde enough, but it seems to be a misguided criticism considering that the show is nostalgia incarnate. From the 25 classic musical numbers (“Fly Me to the Moon,” “Witchcraft, “My Way”) to the retro costumes to the old-style bar setting, Dance With Me creates a misty-eyed yearning for a fantasy Old Vegas. Anything too modern would be anachronistic.

This is a fun, sexy and visually stunning show that introduces Sinatra to a new generation and preserves him for the old. Sinatra Dance With Me is a new Old Vegas fairy tale, one that can be lived again and again.

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John Unwin’s not quite moved into his new office—the artwork’s still waiting to be hung and the shelves are mostly bare—but he’s right at home as the Cosmopolitan hurtles toward its Dec. 15 opening. As of this writing, it’s 14 days, three hours, 47 minutes and eight seconds until the curtain officially rises, according to the Strip-front clock. For the CEO, life and work will be controlled chaos until then, and probably for some time afterward.