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MARIAH CAREY #1S

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Caesars Palace

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

866-320-9763

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$55-$255

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Music

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AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A headlining stint by pop superstar Mariah Carey.

Where is it?

At the 4,000-seat Colosseum at Caesars Palace on the Center Strip.

Is it worth the cost?

It's hard to deny the appeal of Carey's music.

Why should I see this show?

Because you want to see if she still has a five octave range (hint: no).

What else do I need to know?

There are only a handful of dates left in April and May of 2017 and then the show closes.

What's the bottom line?

Die hard Mariah fans should get their tickets now.

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FULL REVIEW

This show will close after the last handful of dates that are scheduled in April and May of 2017.

Pop music royalty doesn't get much more royal than Mariah Carey. During her decades-long career she became one of the top-selling artists of all time, moving an estimated 200 million albums worldwide and racking up 18 Billboard number one hits that collectively have spent 79 weeks at the top spot - more than any other artist in history.

Those 18 chart-toppers make up the set list for #1 to Infinity, her headlining residency gig in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Done chronologically, she starts with 1990's Vision of Love and moves forward through songs like I Don't Want To Cry, Emotions, Dreamlover, Hero, Fantasy, and more, all the way to her last number one hit, Touch My Body from 2008.

A lot has been written - and YouTubed - about the shape of Mariah's voice these days, most of it negative. It is true that she no longer has that famed five octave range that she did when she was first starting out but she still has a strong mid and lower range with a lot of belting power when she wants to.

The challenging thing about this current reality is that they try to be relatively faithful to the original versions of the songs, meaning the high notes are still there - she's just not singing them. It is a miracle of modern technology that they are able to blend the parts where she is actually singing with the parts where she is just lip-syncing, often within the same song, but in the end it's still lip-syncing. She's pretty good at it - there were only a couple of places where it was totally obvious - and even if half of the concert was a recorded track, that still puts her ahead of a lot of other "singers," especially ones in this town (yes, I'm looking at you Britney).

She could have been better served by some fresh takes on the litany of hits. Everything here was a carbon copy of the recordings, which resulted in a sometimes plodding sense of "sameness." A lot of the songs are ballads and mid-tempo R&B jams so by the end of the two hour concert it felt a lot like we had heard five or six songs repeated instead of 18 distinct tracks.

I was also a little disappointed to learn that some of my favorite Mariah music - Make it Happen, Anytime You Need a Friend, I Still Believe, and Loverboy to name a few - apparently never made it to number one. They weren't included here.

The biggest problems with the production, though, are not Mariah but all the stuff going on around and on her - the staging and costumes. Regarding the former, giant butterflies, her signature flourish, frame the stage but the rest of it is plain white with a retro vibe that winds up looking more like a '70s variety show than the old-school funky thing I think they were going for. They do use the big LED screen at the back of the stage to good effect at times, with film and cartoon graphics evoking (or sometimes just showing) the original music videos.

And then there's what she wore. Mariah, sweetheart, you aren't an 18-year-old size 2 anymore and you shouldn't try to dress like one. Her leotard days are firmly behind her (no pun intended) and even the more gown-up dresses wound up looking like someone had sewn them in a basement with very little lighting. Mariah Carey is a beautiful woman and she deserves better than this.

The talented band, backup singers, and big troupe of dancers kept it from getting too staid and she even gets a couple of assists from Trey Lorenz on their hit I'll Be there and with him standing in for Boyz II Men on One Sweet Day. That song, by the way, still holds the record for the longest run at number one having topped the charts for 16 weeks in 1995.

Despite the show's flaws, I still enjoyed myself. Although not all #1 hits are created equal, many of the songs here are pop and R&B classics. I dare you not to get emotional during One Sweet Day and I dare you again to not want to get up and dance during Fantasy or Dreamlover. Change up some of the arrangements to better suit her voice, be a little more creative with the staging, and fire the costumer and you could have a great show. For now, mainly on the strength of the songs, it's just an okay one.

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