Viva Residencies

While Las Vegas awaits a new headliner, it has two veterans returning – Elvis Presley and Celine Dion.

“Viva Elvis” – the highly expensive Cirque du Soleil extravaganza devoted to the King – debuted at the new Aria Resort & Casino Feb. 19 with plenty of celebs, including Priscilla Presley, in attendance. It took an early intermission when a fire alarm caused a 15-minute delay and caused the lights to go up about five minutes into the performance. Other than that, it appears to be a Las Vegas success.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its glitches. The show has everything Sin City visitors want from a Cirque du Soleil show – plenty of acrobatics, vivid colors, trampolines, 120 costume changes and 45 jumpsuits. It has a giant jukebox, an enormous cake, a floating Col. Tom Parker and a pink Cadillac.

What it doesn’t have, apparently, is restraint.

“It’s as if we’re watching two different shows – the circus performances that are the Cirque franchise and a tribute to Elvis that could have stood on its own,” AP special correspondent Linda Deutsch said. “In the words of an Elvis song, the result is ‘Too Much.’”

Mike Weatherford of the Las Vegas Review-Journal called “Viva Elvis” a “happy mess” and said it is Cirque’s “best family offering since ‘O,’” but noted that the Canadian company that produces the show may be out of step with such an American product as Elvis (noting how video presentations of The King upstaged the dancers onstage).

The show also lacked the “dark, lonely side” of the Elvis legacy, which Weatherford attributed to the fact that Cirque du Soleil had to get final approval from Priscilla Presley and Elvis Presley Enterprises.

That being said, reviewers seemed to like the general extravaganza and said there was poignancy in a performance that was to convey Elvis’ emotions toward the loss of his twin brother and a “delightfully funny film-fusion of Elvis’ kissing-heavy movies,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Meanwhile, Weatherford took a moment to talk with AEG Live / Concerts West co-CEO John Meglen to see if the company was going to bring any new residents to the city. Meglen and his staff were responsible for bringing Dion to Vegas and keeping her there – a model that has been successful in the city since Frank Sinatra made it his kind of town. But Meglen couldn’t offer up any new surprises.

“I have made [The Who] offers,” Meglen said, but they “weren’t there yet.” There’s been talk of bringing in Barbra Streisand with a reported offer of $100 million, but Meglen said that’s not an AEG Live project.

“Would I love to see Barbra Streisand do something like this in Las Vegas? Absolutely. I think the world of her,” Meglen said. “And if [manager] Marty Erlichman wants to have those conversations, I’m more than happy to. But to date I haven’t been able to get Marty there.”

As for AEG bringing Carlos Santana to extended engagements at The Joint, Meglen said that would keep on keeping on.

Still, “When the conventions and meetings and all of that got nailed so hard, it just really knocked down that weekday business,” Meglen said. “It’s hard to lock in residencies when you lose those weekdays.”