The producers behind “Awakening,” Las Vegas’ newest stage show, admit that summing up the show in a few words is no easy task.
There will be music. Choreography. A love story. Illusions. Large-scale puppetry. A custom sound system. A moving stage.
“It's hard to describe, and we're kind of glad for that,” said producer and character designer Michael Curry, who is known for his puppetry work in The Lion King on Broadway. “In the truest sense of Las Vegas, it’s a spectacular that belongs here.”
After an extensive renovation to the former Le Reve theater, "Awakening" is set to open at Wynn Las Vegas on Nov. 7.
'A new genre of entertainment'
Awakening's three producers set out to make a show that was unlike anything else in Las Vegas, a city known for big-name headliners like Adele and Celine Dion as well as its Cirque du Soleil performances.
As a narrative-driven performance, director Baz Halpin said "Awakening" will set itself apart from the act-driven shows in Las Vegas.
“We tend to say it's a new genre of entertainment in a way because it's not something that I believe has ever been seen before or can be put in the box,” Halpin told USA TODAY.
The uplifting, family-friendly story from Captain Marvel comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick tells the tale of a heroine working to reunite two lost lovers through music, choreography, technology, puppetry and more.
The custom-designed, 360-degree Awakening Theater has 1,600 seats, each no more than 75 feet from center stage. Its round, 60-foot prismatic stage is made of dichroic glass and LED screens with eight subsections that can be rotated and raised.
“The scenery is behind you, above you, around you," Halpin said. "You're transported into the world of the show.”
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The theater's custom sound system has a "3D sound" effect that pumps through the voice of the show’s narrator, academy award winner Anthony Hopkins, and original music from composer Brian Tyler, who has scored movies such as "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Crazy Rich Asians."
“We didn’t do smell, but that’s about the only sense we’re not touching,” Curry said.
Production costs are estimated to be $120 million.
From 'the dream' to 'Awakening'
Producers include Curry, Halpin (whose previous work includes the Katy Perry Super Bowl XLIX halftime show and concerts from Taylor Swift, Harry Styles and others) and Bernie Yuman, the executive producer behind the Broadway musical "On Your Feet!" who managed Las Vegas legends Siegfried and Roy and Muhammad Ali.
The title of their latest project is fitting; "Awakening" will supersede "Le Reve" ("the dream" in French), an aquatic circus show that closed in 2020. The name wasn't chosen just because it made sense to have an "Awakening" follow "the dream," but producers said it helped cement the choice.
"I don't think we're going to push that as an intentional thing, but it's a thing that sort of substantiates the impulse to use that name," Halpin said. "It was kismet."
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The final result comes after about five years of work, most of which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The timing was a challenge but also advantageous.
“We were able to cherry-pick the best creatives in the world. Everybody seemed to be available in March of 2020,” Curry said.
How can I see the show?
Tickets for "Awakening" are on sale at awakeninglasvegas.com. The 75-minute show will run at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays starting Nov. 7.
Tickets start at $125, with VIP seats available at $475. VVIP (very very important person) seating is $600. A 9% admission tax is added to the baseline ticket fee.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Las Vegas: New Wynn show, 'Awakening,' to debut Nov. 7