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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