Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 | 1:34 p.m.
The Strip has a bona-fide new superstar, and when Shania Twain’s show “Still the One” premiered Saturday night at the Colosseum in Caesars Palace, it packed a high-octane wallop that would’ve KO’d many a UFC fighter.
In 100 minutes, it became one of the best shows on the Strip with hits galore and video bigger and bolder than IMAX. “Still the One” is a show made for Las Vegas complete with dancing violinists and cellists, a flying motorcycle, a gorgeous white horse and a handsome black one, too.
Plus, an a capella backup trio that included Shania's younger sister Carrie Ann, confetti, pumped-in fragrances, stellar musicians and dancers and outrageously stunning costumes as an arena rock concert was married with a theatrical song-and-dance spectacular.
The only thing missing was a real white leopard, and there’s even talk about that since they have the video already. Where’s Mike Tyson’s “The Hangover” tiger; you’re about to get a call! “That’s about to evolve,” Shania laughingly teased me last night.
Not only is Shania still the one and still No. 1, she’s a 10 in the glamour department and pulled a 21 with every card she played. If she’d gone bowling, it would have been a 300. This was Entertainment with a capital E and glitter and glamour by the gallon.
The producers and directors hammered it home lest you forget what Las Vegas is all about with superstar allure and an amazing wow factor. There is absolutely nothing subtle about this production; it set a new level that other Strip stars will now have to kick it up a notch to stay even.
Cirque du Soleil President Daniel Lamarre and director and choreographer Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical,” Michael Jackson’s “This Is It”) agreed that it was brilliant when I chatted with them at the VIP after-party in nearby Empress Court hosted by Caesars, AEG Live and our sister publication Vegas Magazine.
Shortly after the curtain came down on Shania’s official first return to the stage in eight years, she gave me a warm hug and said: “This has been a dream for eight years, including the two since we made the announcement. It all came together; I surprised myself. It was a big challenge. At one point, I thought I was taking on more than I could handle, but I stuck with it. I surprised myself and am so relieved and happy.
“I was totally relaxed tonight. We did our best to make everything as realistic as possible, so you really did want to throw marshmallows on the campfire we had. That was one of the fragrances. Our director Raj Kapoor is amazing. The vision started a long time ago. It took that long to get it all together, but I am totally happy with it.
“I’m exhausted, happy, thrilled, satisfied, but those quick changes will keep you pretty fit. I’m not as tired as I thought I would be from running backstage like a mad woman in and out of the costumes. I’m in good shape. I feel good. My voice is in good shape. I thought for sure I would be vocally exhausted by now having been here eight weeks, but I feel really good.
“This is a fine beginning, and everybody has given us such a warm welcome to Las Vegas. The only problem tonight was that I really did feel as if my eyelashes would come off as I teared up!”
The show opened with an incredible video montage of Shania on horseback at what looked like either the ridgeline of the Grand Canyon or our own Red Rock Canyon. It morphed into a roaring double-ton, high-speed motorcycle ride through a video tunnel to reveal her flying in on the souped-up chopper above the stage. Whereas Cher came in by basket, Shania amped it up with a heavy, horsepower, hammer-down throttle aerial assault.
With that opening surprise and “I’m Gonna Getcha Good!” starting the show, you knew this was going to be a rocket ride. As the 14 musicians, four male dancers and three backup singers -- including her younger sister Carrie Ann -- slid onstage atop three rock-styled music pods, the audience gave her the first of many standing ovations. Shania’s sparkly cat-suit with knee-high boots was the first dazzling display of couturier Marc Bouwer’s fabulous fashion forays.
Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner told me: “I was absolutely blown away. I am a very happy man and really proud that we have another great star in the Colosseum. She will bring a whole new audience to Las Vegas, and that’s very good for the city and us. Her genuineness is wonderful to see, and everybody who comes to see the show will experience that.”
The video mosaics in “Still the One” are mind-blowing: black-and-white patterns and falling disco balls that turned into water waves as Shania belted out “You Win My Love” to show her voice is back.
Amid the first falling confetti, she told the audience: “This is an overwhelming night for me. I’m so emotional, my eyelashes may fall off! It’s been a lot of years since I was out here. I realize what I have been missing, and I am very humbled to be invited here on the same stage as my icons Rod Stewart, Elton John and Celine Dion.
“I’m not alone up here because it’s a big effort by everybody. … It’s been a long time to get back up here, but there is now no way but up.”
A pop-up gunfight video between Shania in white and Shania in black was unique as the stage revealed a saloon bar setup. She rode in on Molesso, the black horse she’d ridden down the Strip in her official welcome last month, and took off her cloak to show a sparkling cowgirl outfit with jeans and a pink plaid shirt and pink-and-red boots. Crediting Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson for her love of country music, she launched into raucous sing-alongs of “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” and “Any Man of Mine.” Shania was so comfortable about her returning night of grandeur that she left the stage and strolled into the audience singing. Even the dancers joined the stunned spectators.
Later, she looked like a sexy Victoria’s Secret supermodel in her leopard-print outfits and lingerie stretched out with the big cats on video. If she’d worn a bikini, the incredibly sexy 47-year-old would’ve given Kate Upton a run for her money for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover. She put on sexy librarian glasses to complete the pin-up pouting! With a red-hot, leopard-print outfit (the one from “That Don’t Impress Me Much”), she could tame any tiger, and Blue Man Group will be envious of her steaming pipes onstage.
I loved the video of the tigers on columns at the side of the stage and the live shots of her in a large mirror-effect screen. It’s obvious that she’s having a ball onstage. Raj told me that the pink doors and red drums were simply a pop-art effect leading to one dramatic exit finding a tiger behind the last door.
At-home and Shania through-the-years videos shown on moving double-decker screens led into an intimate campfire sing-along. “I have fun because I love to sing,” she explained. “I’m a hick from the sticks where there are more trees than people. I love nature. I love the wilderness, and ever since I was 3, I would go out and sing in the trees -- Bee Gees, Carpenters and my mother’s favorite the Everly Brothers.”
She introduced Canadian twins Ryan and Dan Kowarsky and sister Carrie Ann, saying: “I am fulfilling my wonderful dreams right here in Las Vegas. They’re twins, and my sister is only 2 years younger, so we’re like twins. However, she quit singing at 8 years of age, but I’m here tonight because of her. She agreed to do the show with me. Our mom died 28 years ago and never got to see my success.” (My two-part interview with Shania was posted last month.)
They invited four members of the audience to sit around the campfire to join in singing some of her hits. As the show neared its finale, Shania in a shimmering white gown walked onstage with her white horse El Alcazar and commanded the stage to sing “You’re Still the One” alongside the horse.
Shania followed up her biggest hit with “From This Moment On” in an absolutely stunning display of flowing white silks that had the audience gasping in awe and on their feet at the end. Then the band rocked this Colosseum hard in a dizzying array of red.
Part of the stage disappeared below as the bold, brightly-lit letters spelling out S-H-A-N-I-A were lowered from the stage ceiling for the finale. She reappeared in an off-the shoulder, black short mini shouting “Let’s go, girls!” as she belted out “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” with the audience on its feet for the entire number.
“I love this finale,” Raj told me. “It’s the most fun. It has everything. It is bigger, bolder and really Las Vegas. It’s her. This was our first real audience, and she did amazing. She’s really happy, too. I was happy. I am happy for her. She is so dedicated and disciplined. She’s a full-on vegan, and that’s why she’s so healthy for the show.
“We have an amazing team -- musicians, dancers, and she’s a dream. We wanted to combine the arena show and a theater presentation -- rock n’ roll and theater. She wanted that rock feeling, and we wanted to give it to her with theatrical elements.”
AEG chief John Meglen summed up: “Nobody has ever done this state-of-the-art video before. The resolution is twice IMAX. It’s fabulous. Shania is relaxed and enjoying every moment of this. She’s worked with the horses a lot over the past year, and they are all very comfortable onstage with the audience so close.
“She is so genuinely happy to be performing again, and the audience can see it and sense it. Tonight, she let loose -- at least another 25 percent we hadn’t seen before. This is a beautiful show with so many elements, it just flows along. Right now, I’d say it’s the best show I’ve seen.”
Vegas DeLuxe Editor and Las Vegas Sun Senior Editor for Arts & Entertainment Don Chareunsy contributed to this report.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.