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July 28, 2016

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Preview: ‘Twisted Vegas’ toasts grand opening at Westgate Las Vegas

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Denise Truscello / WireImage / DeniseTruscello.net

Alex Goude and his “Twisted Vegas” cast arrive Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, at Westgate Las Vegas.

‘Twisted Vegas’ Arrives at Westgate

Alex Goude and his “Twisted Vegas” cast arrive Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, at Westgate Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

‘Twisted Vegas’ Rehearsal

Rehearsal of Launch slideshow »

It could be one of the toughest challenges in entertainment: Can handsome French superstar Alex Goude translate his incredible European success story to the stage in Las Vegas? Will his form of Charlie Chaplin-esque European humor be interpreted here? Will he be the first French variety star to win big here? He’s determined to bet the franc on it.

His “Twisted Vegas” opens officially tonight at Westgate Las Vegas. Alex, known as Europe’s Ryan Seacrest with no less than seven hit TV shows to his credit, is convinced that a spoof of Las Vegas shows, headliners and attractions will win him American fame.

I interviewed Alex when he began rehearsals for “Twisted Vegas,” and days before tonight’s opening, I watched one of his first preview dress rehearsals. Alex is joined by Lance Burton’s juggling sidekick, Michael Goudeau, and a cast of zany, flamboyant, over-the-top and out-of-control characters, several from wins on “America’s Got Talent.”

His acrobatic “French circus” acts are impressive, and I’ve no doubt that Cirque du Soleil’s talent scouts might be out to recruit some if they can see past the spoof of “Mystere” and “Zumanity,” the show opener by the zany Kristef Brothers. Incredibly, they recruit an amateur from the audience to lend his back for their acrobatics.

There’s even more amazing agility with a hand-balancing act on thin poles that winds up with the female acrobat able to do the equivalent of a handstand without using her hands — just using her chin on a small, thin pole. She also is able to fire an arrow from a bow held only by her feet on a bull’s eye.

Alex spares nobody in his fun spoof of Las Vegas: shopping, zip lines, nightclub dancing, buffets, a spa scene with bathrobe-clad males in a dance routine and resort fees. You can stay in a hotel for as little as $19, but add another $19 for the bed, $19 for the room key, $19 for this and another $19 for that — and suddenly you’re back at the normal price. Parking fees will be his next target, obviously.

I won’t spoil the fun of how Alex recruits six members of the audience and dresses them in raincoats to re-create the Bellagio Fountains. It’s as clever a skit as the technical artistry he uses for the hand-shadow puppetry and his uncanny ability to dance with laser beams.

The emphasis of all these French variety-show acts, though, is his satirical send-up of what we take for normal in Sin City. The Blue Men comes in for some ribbing during their drumming sequence. He mocks “Rock of Old Ages” with guitarists in walkers.

He ridicules the Luxor’s Egyptian-themed building and with a hypnotized mini-Criss Angel. He pokes fun at Cirque’s “O” with a mermaid on the ropes and has a Celine Dion female impersonator to re-create the just-closed “Jubilee” at Bally’s “Titanic” scene to “My Heart Will Go On.”

In this wild, seemingly out-of-control, fast and furious frenzied production, the audience becomes “Thriller” ghouls as Alex squeezes himself into four duplicate video frames of Michael Jackson.

In a unique first for Las Vegas, we see an aerial dogfight with two miniature planes. These are not drones. These are bobbing, weaving and flying planes over the audience. No show in Las Vegas has pulled that stunt before.

Nor the finale, where he tosses a wedding bouquet into the audience, and the person who catches it goes onstage to be “married” to him by a mini-Elvis Presley licensed minister. Is this Beacher’s Madhouse as seen through French eyes? Is this “Absinthe” with a little sin and tonic or vodka and sofa?

It’s certainly a show for the family, so parents with kids visiting Las Vegas at least now have a madcap PG show for youngsters rather than staring at 1-800 mobile advertising trucks roaming the Strip.

Does it all translate for the Las Vegas theatergoer? Is it twisted enough to take off in its parody of Old and new Las Vegas? Is it wacky enough to draw audiences from other hotels to check out the Westgate?

Alex knows that these are tough questions he faces and that they start to get answered as of tonight’s premiere. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. He admits that it’s a big-bet gamble.

“I’m really making fun of myself,” he told me, “and that humor translates in any language. I’ve been traveling back and forth between France and Las Vegas for almost my whole life. I’ve been to every show and have been able to see the great talent in Las Vegas.

“When visitors come here, they probably don’t get the opportunity to experience all of them, so I created ‘Twisted Vegas’ to cover the lot. We’ll shake up the status quo and replace it with a new take on the city’s favorite acts.”

Alex has his hands full. In addition to producing and directing another future Las Vegas magic spectacular, he’s developing a musical in France, the biggest in French history, to open in September.

“Twisted Vegas” is at 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at the former Elvis Presley theater at Westgate.

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.

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