Friday, April 20, 2001 | 8:47 a.m.
Much ado. Too much ado, made even more so with overwhelming sound levels. "Storm" is a relentless hodgepodge, sans respite, with neither contrast nor the simplest dynamics. Latin music is highly rhythmic, but it is also sensuous, passionate and with lovely nuances, but not as presented this week in Mandalay Bay's Storm Theatre.
In fairness, there is a large, attractive and talented cast of performers who are singer-dancer-athletes in this incessant musical decathlon. Unfortunately, there is not one marquee-power name to bolster the title.
There is a great deal happening, not only in using the elements of nature but well-chosen bits and pieces from Cirque du Soleil and the "Blue Man Group," which performs next door at the Luxor, and "De La Guarda" at the Rio. The action makes use of the entire theater.
Co-creator and director Jamie King describes "Storm" as "a musical journey of human emotion expressed through the forces of nature." There is a spoken prologue which sets the stage for the calling of the storm in Act I, "Mother Earth and her Forces of Nature Give Life to the Elements: Earth, Wind, Water and Fire." The "Conga" opening utilizes the entire cast, setting the high energy level that never lets up until Act III -- more than 90 minutes.
Mary Jo Coyle has extensive credits in Las Vegas and is quite fiery as "Fire." Remy Palacios is a singing, dancing, musicianly, bon-bon shaking "Earth." Konrad Broock ("Water") also has Las Vegas credits. Christine La Fond ("Wind") carries a good deal of the singing load nicely. Palacios and La Fond are making their Las Vegas debuts and doing so very well.
Jerry Lopez is a capable musical director who has worked with and toured with some of the finest artists in jazz and Latin music. He has also worked as band leader for Clint Holmes. The musicianship is live and wonderful, particularly the ubiquitous trumpet, trombone and saxophone trio. This show could never be performed nearly as well, if at all, with canned music.
The rest of the creative team, led by King, includes Peter Morse (lighting designer); Carla Kama and Melissa Williams (choreographers); Gerard Howland (scenic design); Kurt and Bart (costume design); and composer George Noriega, who composed two original songs for "Storm." They have copious credits but mostly with artists who tour and perform in events centers, arenas and much larger auditoriums -- not an advantage here.
"Storm" has many excellent ingredients, but it is just a series of not-very-well connected overdone, over-loud song-and-dance segments.
I was checking my watch at the 20-minute mark and hoping for that one number or one segment that would make all the rest of it meaningful. It never came. My ears were still ringing as I wrote this review some two hours later.
I wish all concerned the very best, but after seeing the present state of "Storm," I have empathy for the cast that worked so hard and so well, and for those who have spent considerable time and money to bring "Storm" to this point. But I do not have a great deal of hope.