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Katy Perry finds freedom in getting older, Vegas residency: 'I don’t have to prove anything'

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LAS VEGAS – Katy Perry is in the toilet.

She’s wearing a short white dress and thigh-high boots and singing “California Gurls," her breezy 2010 smash and one of nine No. 1 hits in her nearly 15 years as a pop music titan.

She climbs out of the Godzilla-sized orange commode and scampers down a stack of equally colossal rolls of toilet paper to skip around the pink-and-yellow checkerboard stage with her dancers. As the song zips along with its endlessly appealing chorus, a tall, velvety brown character rises from the bowl (need we say more?), wiggling to the melody.

Soon, she’s cavorting with an oversized tube of toothpaste while singing a mashup of “Hot N Cold” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)” followed by a swinging jazz-ercized rendition of “Waking Up in Vegas.”

Friends, this is Perry – Las Vegas style.

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Yes, Katy Perry does enter the stage during her Play residency in Las Vegas via a giant toilet bowl.
Yes, Katy Perry does enter the stage during her Play residency in Las Vegas via a giant toilet bowl.

Since the last week of December, Perry has conquered The Theatre at Resorts World with her delightful residency dubbed, appropriately, Play.

The concert – more of a spectacle – is five acts plus an encore spotlighting Perry’s signature pop gems (“Teenage Dream,” “Dark Horse,” “Roar”) and complemented by massive set pieces (crunched beer cans, a rocking horse) and an acre of feather boas.

Act three, titled “Eat Me,” includes dancers frolicking in mushroom cap hats, Perry entering on a gliding snail, red-fringed latex chaps and a supersonic version of “I Kissed a Girl” that culminates with Perry’s guitarist shooting sparks from the neck of her instrument.

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Katy Perry's Play residency at Resorts World in Las Vegas isn't quite a Broadway show, but its elaborate props make for a colorful concert.
Katy Perry's Play residency at Resorts World in Las Vegas isn't quite a Broadway show, but its elaborate props make for a colorful concert.

Call it a fever dream or an acid trip sans the acid, but the show breathes cleverness and originality and is, as Perry calls it, a “fun bit of escapism.”

She returns for another spate of dates Friday through June 11 and again in late July, with more shows expected later this year.

From her home, Perry talked with USA TODAY about her lively Vegas production, along with her new business ventures and balancing motherhood with nearly 2-year-old Daisy Dove, her daughter with fiancé Orlando Bloom.

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Katy Perry's Play residency at Resorts World in Las Vegas currently has dates scheduled throughout the summer.
Katy Perry's Play residency at Resorts World in Las Vegas currently has dates scheduled throughout the summer.

Question: The show is so vibrant and kooky and it looks … exhausting. Do you have to physically prepare even more than on past tours?

Katy Perry: You definitely have to be mindful that you have a show coming up after a six- or eight-week break. I get really strict about two or three weeks before. (The set) is like a giant kid’s jungle gym and I’m a 37-year-old adult. So I have to train like an athlete and do physical therapy and use the sauna and let go of my Taco Bell.

Q: There’s also a fair amount of acting – beyond a singing persona – in the show. Has that been difficult for you?

Perry: I always feel like I dial up my personality and become this character and use a certain tone onstage. The show is fun and silly and goofy. But it also has a huge layer of redemption and the theme of unconditional love and finding that love at the end and going through hell to find it in some ways. It’s not a Broadway show; there isn’t a lot of dialogue except for conversations with a giant toilet.

Q: Is there a particular segment of the show that makes you nervous because of all the scampering around you’re doing in high-heeled boots?

Perry: We say our prayers for protection every single time. I mount a huge rocking horse and that can sometimes have its moments. When we come back after a break, sometimes (the dancers) mess with me and rock it really hard. It’s like going back to my teenage self and riding a surfboard.

Katy Perry says standing atop the rocking horse in her Las Vegas residency show at Resorts World is a bit like her younger years surfing in California.
Katy Perry says standing atop the rocking horse in her Las Vegas residency show at Resorts World is a bit like her younger years surfing in California.

Q: In the last part of the show you sing “The Greatest Love of All,” which I thought was an interesting choice since it hasn't been part of your live shows or album repertoire. Why that song? 

Perry: I’m curious, why did you think it was an interesting choice?

Q: Probably because it’s so associated with Whitney Houston.

Perry: I don’t sing it like she sings it. I wanted to do my own interpretation of it in its original (George Benson) form. After I had my daughter, the song spoke to me in a different way. I feel like Daisy has given me the greatest love of all and I find it now in my family life.

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Q: You made a comment during the show I saw that you’re 37, so you have Botox. Do you feel that the industry is still unkind to women as they get older?

Perry: The truth is, the music industry is a young person’s game. Everybody loves music and the passion, but the fandom is younger; that’s just what it is. I’m just going to keep on making music as the message comes to me. The great thing I’ve been able to find is a lot of freedom. In the beginning, I was creating art because the art moved me, and somewhere along the way, the noise comes in and you start making art with a little influence from the outside. If you can survive that, you get to a point where you (don't care what others think) and you go back to making art from that really pure place again. I don’t have to prove anything anymore. I have graduated from all of it with honors. I became valedictorian, so what extra credit do I get? (Laughs.)

There are many colorful moments in Katy Perry's Play residency at Resorts World in Las Vegas. The show is "a fun bit of escapism," Perry says.
There are many colorful moments in Katy Perry's Play residency at Resorts World in Las Vegas. The show is "a fun bit of escapism," Perry says.

Q: You’ve got a shoe line (Katy Perry Collections), you co-founded De Soi beverages, you’re a judge on “American Idol” and a mom. How are you balancing everything?

Perry: There’s a lot more balance when you have a family. A lot falls away that isn’t really important. It’s more focused when you do decide to work because you think, these two hours I could be going to the park or the zoo, especially in these years of a child’s life when their whole mind is being formed. Vegas was a fantastic opportunity to take my daughter to preschool and then Mommy goes to work. But I’m at my best multitasking. I’m transitioning a little more into the entrepreneurial space and the shoe line was an opportunity to become a CEO. These are branches of my tree. My trunk will always be music, but I have many branches.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Katy Perry's Las Vegas residency returns for summer at Resorts World