In the theatre of the mind, O percolates with daring imagination and refined technical accomplishment. From the moment the lights dim, you are hypnotized like a 4-year listening to a bedtime story. O compels you to look. Dream-like aquatic sequences distort your reality even as you marvel at Olympic-champion synchronized swimmers flawlessly executing their acts. Just when you think you have it figured out, this surreal theatre of the mind amazes and surprises at each turn.
That O is an aquatic celebration of life, love and death is only partially true. The generous body of material includes a trapeze, high dive, fire handling, enigmatic clowns, and aerial hoops. A show-stopping water barge scene is absolutely mystical. Oversized hats somehow fit perfectly. Zebra-skinned serfs fit in as normally as people in a Norman Rockwell painting. The array of captivating imagery is as voluminous as it is magnificent. It’s Alice in Wonderland performed by swimmers, acrobats, contortionists, artisans and imagineers at the height of their powers.
Music for each scene is deftly tuned and executed by the house band and vocalists, though not quite as memorable as that of Mystere. The well-placed lighting system of 1,695 dimmers and 230 color scrollers precisely set the atmosphere for every square foot of scenery. Those with an eye for color schemes will appreciate the fine hues and trimming of each costume, which are as precise as the acrobatics.
Once you see the multi-million dollar set design customized for O, you realize this is no ordinary theatre. The set features a 1.5 million-gallon pool that is 25 feet deep and measures 150–by-100 feet. The hydraulic riggings for the more complex set pieces run perfectly, despite water submersion. Places on the set become water-laden, dry and then water-laden again, as if someone had wished a genie to make it so. The director’s every whim has been met by the producers, and we the audience, get to indulge in the director’s fantasy.
Such a technical and artistic tour de force could only exist in the premier adult entertainment destination – Las Vegas. Far too expensive elsewhere, this show depends on and gets hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Treat yourself to the fantasy. The price will pinch you, but its well worth every penny. O merits a trip to Vegas on its own. Besides, you’ll have lots of water-cooler material after this one. O has performed at Bellagio since 2001.