Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 | 12:29 p.m.
A handful of people are sitting in a darkened theater as the clock ticks near midnight, and onstage pop princess Britney Spears is dancing and doing backflips with high-powered energy.
She’s on fire and loving what she’s doing. The enthusiasm in the empty rehearsal theater is exciting and contagious.
After a week of rehearsals in Orleans Showroom, this is Britney’s first and only night of dress rehearsals back at Axis at Planet Hollywood. In less than 24 hours, the curtain goes up on her reimagined and remixed resident show “Britney: Piece of Me.”
Britney’s show was loaded in just hours earlier Friday afternoon after Jennifer Lopez’s stage for her new residency, “All I Have,” had been cleared. The new video wraps and walls and lasers for Britney’s show work perfectly.
The applause from her tiny inside circle Friday night after 11 was replaced by wild screams, cheers, whistles and roars from the sold-out audience at Saturday night’s opening.
“She’s never sounded better, moved better or looked better,” a happy Larry Rudolph tells me. As Britney’s manager, he watches every second of the new show.
“She’s reinvigorated. She’s so excited, and she has all these new, sexy costumes and choreography. She’s on top of the world. A good 40 percent of the show has completely changed,” he tells me.
“This wasn’t change for change’s sake. But the show has been the same for two years, so it was time for some change. It’s a good thing, as it keeps Britney and the audience charged up.
“We’ve added a new section of rock ’n’ roll. We’ve got extraordinary lasers now.” As I reported Friday in my Q+A with the 34-year-old pop superstar and mother of two sons, she’s added the sex-fueled songs “Breathe on Me” and “Touch of My Hand”:
“The intention wasn’t to completely revamp the show. There are so many parts of the original that I love and didn’t want to change. I’m constantly getting hit up by fans asking me to add this song or that song, so I thought it would be a good idea after two years to give everyone a little something different.
“I’m definitely excited about it. I’ve added a few fan-favorite songs, changed up the intro and had fabulous new costumes designed for each act. I also put together an amazing dance break to three of my favorite Missy Elliot songs.
“It’s been a long process, maybe three months or so.”
In the late-night dress rehearsal, I listened to Britney perform three of her six new songs, including the fierce “If You Seek Amy.”
Britney is in top form and full force dancing up a storm onstage like a teenager with unlimited energy. Her dancers carried her high above their heads and spun her into backflips worthy of Cirque du Soleil acrobatics.
Those moves won her fan raves at Saturday night’s show, and the audience, including “Extra’s” Mario Lopez, who performed the same bungee jump that Britney does during the “Toxic” act, loved every moment of the party attitude she added to the stage show.
Said Britney: “It’s fun, new choreography, and the fans are going to enjoy dancing along to it. We’re bringing the party to the show.”
The new costumes are hot — really hot and sexy — some of the sexiest she’s ever worn showing off her yoga-exercised and tight, taught tummy to perfection. An oversized “mechanical,” brightly lit guitar thrilled fans as she rode it like a bucking bull at Gilley’s.
Britney also told fans that 80 percent of her new album is done. For now, it’s still untitled, but she expects to finish it within the next three weeks.
“It’s really different. I’m really excited about it. It’s my favorite one to date. I’ve done a lot of writing for it. It’s turned out very interesting with a really cool vibe.”
Over the four years of her Planet Hollywood contract, Britney will perform 260 shows. I had to ask her manager if the refresh at the halfway mark of her current contract was because of the new J.Lo show that opened at Axis Theater on Jan. 20. (J.Lo will perform 180 shows over three years).
Larry told me: “Britney has a completely different show. This was just something we needed to do after running 100 percent for two years. Britney is primarily — 99 percent — a music artist, while J.Lo has her other career aspects, including her TV series.”
Britney says her new album will reflect some of the new show, adding that even with the new changes, there’s more to come this year.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
Catering to the young and modern crowd, Planet Hollywood is a one-stop shop for entertainment with its massive shopping mall, slew of restaurants, spacious casino and clubs.
The ambiance of the casino is retro-chic meets high-tech with black granite floors throughout and colorful LED lights throughout the space. The theme carries into the 100,000 square-foot casino with 250 flat screens topping off slot machines. The casino is also home to 87 tables, a sports book and a poker room.
There's also the Miracle Mile Shops, one Vegas' largest malls, with 140 stores including BCBG Max Azaria, bebe, Urban Outfitters and The Discovery Channel Store.
Following an afternoon of shopping, guests can satisfy their appetites at one of the gourmet restaurants in Planet Hollywood, like the non-traditional approach to steakhouses at Strip House or check out the exotic Far East motif at KOI restaurant and lounge. And if guests are still looking for more, they can spend the after hours at Privé, Triq or Krave nightclubs.
Perhaps one of the resorts biggest attractions came in March with the addition of "Peepshow." The naughty twist on the story of Little Bo Peep is modern-day spin on the run-of-the-mill Vegas topless review. The "Peepshow" stage has seen visiting celebs like Scary Spice Mel B, "Dancing with the Stars" Kelly Monaco and Playboy's Holly Madison.