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November 14, 2018

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Maksim Chmerkovskiy of ‘DWTS’: ‘Le Reve’s’ new $3 million sequence is ‘historic’


Tom Donoghue /

Le Reve — The Dream” unveils its $3 million show element Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, in Wynn Theater.

‘Le Reve’ Unveiling at Wynn Theater

Launch slideshow »

‘DWTS’ Season 18: Finale

Maksim Chmerkovskiy and ice dancer Meryl Davis celebrate their Season 18 victory with host Tom Bergeron on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

"Le Reve -- The Dream" unveils its $3 million show element Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, in Wynn Theater.

Click to enlarge photo

"Le Reve -- The Dream" unveils its $3 million show element Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, in Wynn Theater. Wynn General Manager of Entertainment Operations Rick Gray is pictured here at the media preview.

Dancers in Steve Wynn’s amazing aquatic show “Le Reve — The Dream” rehearsed all weekend through fiery flames and cascading water waves to ensure a perfect launch tonight for a new, jaw-dropping, four-minute sequence.

Even former “Dancing With the Stars” heartthrob Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who choreographed the sequence, is in awe of the 16 fire shooters and 172 high-powered water fountains firing more than 100 feet into the air lit by 120 individual, colored LED lighting spots.

“This is a historic event because an audience has never seen this before. Our dancers are becoming part of history. This is one-of-a-kind magic,” Maks told me. “We’re certain to be copied, but we’re the original and we will always have been first. It’s certainly the best on the Strip and maybe in the world now. I can only say that to see it, the feeling is euphoric.”

It took 18 months and nearly 60 designers, technicians, engineers, dancers and choreographers more than 3,000 hours to create, install and rehearse this new segment. Additionally, there are three, 20-feet-tall, fan-like walls of water that twist, billow and wave while hologram images are projected on the moving images.

Add a 47-foot-tall rain curtain that descends from the ceiling to the stage as a 360-degree wall of water with other moving image projections and 12 8-feet-wide fire bells covered by umbrella-like waterfalls, and you marvel at the miracle at what has been orchestrated.

“It was and is a privilege to be involved,” Maks continued. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something so innovative. ‘Le Reve’ is a juggernaut and now the most powerful show in the world, and yet it continues to be a living organism.”

The scene is titled “Denouement,” a French term for a final part of the storytelling where the plot is revealed. It plays as the penultimate act, just before the finale to the spectacular production. This extraordinary addition marks the beginning of the show’s 10th anniversary.

“Over the past 4,500 shows, we’ve continued to introduce new elements, costumes, music and scenes to ‘Le Reve,’ but this stands as one of the greatest achievements in the show’s history,” said Rick Gray, general manager of entertainment operations for Wynn Las Vegas. “We do this for our guests. As no two dreams are ever truly the same, neither is our show, and we take pride in that.”

Steve Wynn himself is “Le Reve’s” executive producer. Rick told me: “He’s always asking what else can we do? What can we change? He always tells us that it’s crucial to keep thinking about new ideas. We’ve been recognized as the best show the past four years, so we have to stay on top. We have added new elements since 2006 but especially the past two years with new lighting, new sound and the fabric ceiling. Steve asked for bigger and better water effects!

“We were in meetings with the WET people for fountains at the Macau property when Steve came up with the ideas of incorporating it into ‘Le Reve.’ But it had to fit within the show, it had to be a part of the show, not just making it a water show. So first came new music so the fountains could be programmed to fit. Steve’s input, encouragement and support made it happen when he gave the go-ahead to the $3 million cost. It was always, ‘Let’s keep making it better.’ It reflects Steve’s aesthetics and the hotel’s aesthetics.

“We’re constantly trying to do ‘more show.’ It’s never about the risk of changing something that’s already working. It’s always about giving our guests the new and the unexpected. That’s what allows us to be unique, and this combination of the elements of fire and water with flames in a rain curtain for dancers to go through fire is absolutely unique.”

Audiences will see it for the first time tonight. “I’m confident that we are ready,” said Rick. “You can call it a soft opening as it’s the first time, but it’s the real deal.” Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his gallery of photos from Friday’s technical run-through.

Louanne Madorma, director of artistic implementation, and Dale Hurt, director of technical operations, spearheaded the ambitious project. A former dancer, Louanne decided to dance through the flames and the water before allowing her dancers to go through it.

“I had to do it as it had never been done before,” she told me. Louanne wound up telling the dancers how to deal with the pressures of the gushers so that they weren’t knocked off balance. She also warned them that although the flames were warm in the water, they had to still remember the fire could burn them.

It’s no secret that I love “Le Reve — the Dream.” I recommend it to every visitor who asks me for advice. In fact, one of my sons is taking my daughter-in-law and granddaughter there this week during our Thanksgiving celebration. My recent visit where I noted that the storyline, jazz and ballet have been expanded was posted last Monday.

After watching the new scene — a mini-show in its own right — one realizes that this is a mind-blowing celebration at the end of the heroine’s journey just before she wakens. That journey is reflected in the water, although, because she’s still in her dream state, it’s dream-like and not realistic.

As Maks described it to me: “The feeling is of waking from a dream. Things aren’t quite clear, still a feeling of being discombobulated. But you know she’s reached the end of the dream. Our job has been accomplished. The incredible thing with Steve is that there is no doubt in his mind as to what you can do. He backs it creatively and financially. The inspiration for this came from within ‘Le Reve,’ an amazing company to work with.

“I am very lucky. When they told me about the new technology, I didn’t need to know what it was. I just said, ‘I’m in.’ From the first time I joined everybody in ‘Le Reve’ when Steve invited me five years ago to help revamp the dancing, he makes you believe that anything you think of can come true. It all comes from within.

“The audience always find something new about it when they return time and again to see it, just like dreaming multiple times. Dreams are never the same, nor is ‘Le Reve.’ ”

As strong as Steve is in his commitment for change at “Le Reve,” he’s now fully focused on his new production “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers” opening at Encore Theater in Wynn on Dec. 16. First costume rehearsals with the full cast take place this week.

“He’s created something really terrific,” Rick told me. “He’s energized over it like never before.”

After 14 seasons on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and finally winning Season 18 with Olympic ice-dancing champion Meryl Davis, Maks walked away from the long-running hit.

He told me, “I felt old a year ago and realized that my dancing days were over. It was time to fix the aches and pains. I didn’t just sit in the audience seats, though, to direct this. I went right down there to where the dancers were. I’ve been splashed enough, so I was up close but just far enough away.

“You’re right, though. For a dancer, the addiction to dancing never goes away, so after walking away from the TV show going out on top, I had to turn the page. I am now focused on the future, and lots of opportunities lie ahead.”

First up, he’s created a new show, “Sway — a Dance Trilogy” for himself, his brother Val and “DWTS” pro-dancer co-star Tony Dovolani. Meryl and “DWTS” pro dancer Peta Murgatroyd are joining them. The production premieres in New York on Dec. 17.

It’s a peek into the lives of Maks, Val and Tony off screen with the glamour and passion of ballroom and Latin dancing in an entirely new way with spectacular visuals and exciting original choreography in a fusion of dance styles.

It’s designed with a possible Las Vegas future in mind. For now, though, Maks’ only Las Vegas commitment is to “Le Reve.”

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and being part of what is the best show ever anywhere is something I’ll have for the rest of my life. What a privilege.”

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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