Some forms of art work best in a vacuum. The artist expresses their talent, then the viewer forms an opinion. Live entertainment rarely works that way. There's a level of communication between those on stage and the audience that must be recognized and addressed. If something doesn't work, yet continues without a course correction, the show will ultimately fail. So it's smart business to pay attention to ticket-buyers and critics (Criss Angel, are you listening?).
Many Vegas productions have stumbled out of the gate, revised what wasn't working, and were then able to soar. Long-running LE REVE at Wynn is the best example of this. A victim of meat-grinder reviews when it debuted, the aquatic spectacular from Franco Dragone (AMYSTIKA, MYSTERE) gutted just about everything, then ran for a solid fifteen years.
My initial review from last October (read it HERE) described iLuminate as such: "20 minutes of awesome and 40 minutes of WTF. Too bad the creators don't have enough faith in their own product to let the performers shine. It's truly a shame that such a wonderfully talented group as iLuminate has bungled their first opportunity to shine on the Las Vegas Strip."
Pretty brutal, eh? If you clicked the link and revisited that review, you saw that my biggest complaint was that the show didn't even focus on its titular stars. But here's the cool part - those behind the scenes listened to their critics and audience members. They powered down the failing show, replaced the defective parts, and came back with a super-powered hit. Let's call it iLuminate 2.0.
How dramatic is the difference between the previous iteration and what's currently being performed? I'll let visuals take over for that answer. Compare the sad, lifeless, and nearly-empty theater above (October 2021) to the video I captured last week. Cheering crowds, people on their feet, and a slam-dunk presentation from the entire cast. Go ahead and watch...I'll wait.
iLuminate STRAT Vegas April 2022
There are a number of lessons to be learned from iLuminate's transformation. One is to be true to your vision. A number of AGT contestants have brought their acts to Vegas stages, often believing that injecting adult humor and sexual content would make them a success. What actually happens is that you lose the core audience. Terry Fator is a prime example. Beloved on television for his awe-shucks persona, the singing ventriloquist piled on drug and gay jokes, then added characters like an alcoholic redneck and a sex-crazed cougar. He now performs in a second-floor banquet room at New York NY.
iLuminate and its producers recognized that their product is strong enough to stand on its own. Gone are the awful emcees and a bizarre mating dance. The show has moved from 10 pm to a more palatable 8 pm time slot. The 16-and-over age limit has been removed, too, making iLuminate 2.0 family-friendly without catering to children. In other words, it's what it should have been all along.
iLuminate offers free photo-ops after the show.
An enormous amount of work goes into every Vegas production...even the awful ones. Knowing this, I feel no joy in writing negative reviews. So it's a thrill when the opportunity arises for a second look at a revamped production. It's a pleasure to call the new iLuminate a powerful, electrifying hit. Don't miss it.
iLuminate performs nightly at 8 pm (dark Tuesdays) with matinee performances on select dates. Click HERE for schedule and tickets. Prices start at $49 (plus taxes/fees). TicketKite is currently offering Preferred and VIP seating at 45% off. Click HERE to take advantage of the discount.