Friday, May 17, 2002 | 9:28 a.m.
Charo, starring in "Bravo," which recently moved to the Sahara Congo Room from The Venetian Showroom, presents the most authentic, high- energy, contemporary Spanish music, dance and comedy spectacular to play Las Vegas on a regular basis.
Backed by 10 superlative dancers, three top specialty acts, four brilliant musicians and an occasional soundtrack enhancement, Charo, looking spectacular, both charms and overwhelms the audience with a bravura tour de force as a performer -- as a singer, dancer, comedian and an accomplished classical Spanish guitar soloist.
Maximum use is made of the minimal stage plus two huge screens, so one can experience "three Charos" simultaneously. The 550-seat showroom has been reconfigured nicely, making the entire production that much more effective.
The dancers set the theme and the torrid tempo with a hot salsa number, following which Charo was introduced, joining the dancers and singing "Todos Ole." Her dialogue made the audience feel welcome and laugh, as well. This led into "Come on the Road," written by Barry Manilow and sung by Charo on the soundtrack of the animated film, "Thumbelina."
Sammy King and his Spanish- speaking parrot puppet were off the night we caught the show earlier this week. The Apollo Brothers, two Mexican jugglers who operated at a breakneck speed, scored heavily. Another dance number kept the energy quotient way up there. The beautiful aerial adagio number by Cees and Cathy Dekok proved a welcome mood change at the one-hour mark.
Charo returned in high gear with the dancers for "Give Me Cuchi," one of her early disco hits. The comedy dialogue included a hilarious discourse on how Castilian Spanish came to be spoken with a "th" sound for certain words containing a "c" or an "s."
"Mama Mia" is a Broadway hit, which includes two songs written by Charo and the group Abba, "Fernando" and "Chiquitita," sung here as a medley. Spanish flamenco dancer Pablo Pizano was featured next, backed by the other dancers.
Charo's guitar medley, always a high spot, included "Caliente," written by her; "Malaguena," "Leyenda" and closed with Pizano and the male dancers onstage with her for Ravel's classic "Bolero." A Brazilian Mardi Gras samba by the entire company closed the 85-minute performance, which seemed too soon over. Bravos, all concerned.