At a Glance
What is it?
A Cirque du Soleil style production featuring aerial and aquatic stunts, dance, and a darkly compelling storyline about a woman and her dreams.
Where is it?
In a gorgeous theater in the round at Wynn Las Vegas on the North Strip.
Is it worth the cost?
Absolutely. It has grown into being one of the best shows in town.
Why should I see this show?
Because you love Cirque du Soleil but want something with a little more edge.
What else do I need to know?
Some of the imagery could be disturbing to some.
What’s the bottom line?
A visually dramatic and highly entertaining night at the theater.
In Las Vegas, things that last a long time usually evolve over time. Sometimes that evolution is subtle and sometimes dramatic, but those things that grow and change and refuse to remain static are often the ones that can keep people entertained over the long haul. Le Rêve at Wynn Las Vegas is a great example of how can a show can evolve from derivative to unique, from challenged to challenging, and from good to absolutely fantastic.
When this water-themed show debuted at Wynn Las Vegas in 2005, the Cirque du Soleil style theatrics and acts seemed like carbon copies of O at Bellagio but it was accompanied by dark imagery that was at times disturbing. A clearer and less threatening storyline, enhanced special effects, new acts, and an integration of ballroom dancing have set it apart as its own creation and it is a stunning one at that.
Created originally by Franco Dragone, the man who created Cirque du Soleil’s O, Le Rêve has many of the same thematic elements, most notably the giant water tank that people dive into, swim through, and do dramatic aerial stunts above. As with “O” the conceit can be a bit limiting but part of the show’s evolution has been to emphasize more of the aerial stunts and dramatic Latin dance numbers, making it a richer experience.
The story, such as it is, involves a woman who is torn over whether or not she should allow herself to fall in love and then dreams of an aquatic world of angels and demons, hopes and fears, comedy and drama. It’s a romantic quest – a stumble through the kinds of insecurities we all feel when exploring the boundaries of a relationship. I could’ve done without the unnecessary “love is hard” type lyrics that have been added to some of the previously instrumental-only songs, but it’s still a relatable concept.
From there, though, it goes into Cirque du Soleil territory with lots of gasp-inducing diving, swimming, and stunts mixed with dramatic set pieces, many of which are darker in tone than anything Cirque does (at least here in Vegas). One particularly affecting segment looks like an aerial ballet of angels falling to earth (or water, as the case may be), only to have some scooped up by a grim-reaper-esque figure collecting the dead and the rest reeled back up into the heavens, screaming as they go. Whether or not that’s the intended meaning behind that part the show, or whether that’s how you’ll interpret it, is almost irrelevant. The very fact that these elements exist to challenge the willing members of the audience who want something more than people diving into a pool is noteworthy.
But for those who do want the mindlessness, Le Rêve can still deliver on that. It is certainly darker than similar shows but it now contains enough humor and all of the eye-popping visual stunts and set pieces that people have come to expect from this particular genre.
The addition over the last couple of years of some new numbers keeps it fresh. A version of a fan dance uses soaring, billowing fabrics and a lovely snowfall accompanies acrobats performing in a birdcage, a rope, and a lamp post suspended above the pool. The ballroom style dance is also enlivening. Mostly Latin inspired from “Dancing with the Stars” dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the choreography and the dancers are championship caliber even before you consider the fact that often they are doing it all on narrow, wet walkways and sometimes actually up to their ankles in water. How they manage to accomplish that without sacrificing the aesthetics of their choreography (or breaking their ankles) is nothing short of amazing.
In late 2014 they installed a new production piece that was estimated to have cost around $3 million featuring walls of water that feature projections and lighting on and in them along with. Its sort of like a smaller, more colorful version of the Bellagio Fountains. It’s impressive from a visual standpoint but I kind of miss the human element that infuses the rest of the show. It felt a little “tacked on” to me, but it doesn’t harm the overall impression of the show.
If you are intrigued by the way they do the show there are many opportunities for a deeper dive (see what I did there?). A fascinating Backstage Tour gives a full access pass to the behind the scenes goings-on that make a huge show like this tick; special packages include upgraded seats with monitors that show you the underwater action; and there’s even a package where certified diver’s can get in the pool and see how it’s all done from that angle.
It’s almost not a real comparison anymore since, other than the water aspect, they are completely different shows but if you were to force me to choose between them I would pick Le Rêve over O. Its heart-stopping acrobatics and diving mixed with the emotionally resonant storyline and visuals make it a more complete theatrical package and an experience that you will remember long after you leave the theater.