You have to wonder what “Rouge,” the topless show from the producers of “Wow” and “Extravaganza,” might look like.
It looks like topless dancers added to “Wow” and “Extravaganza.” Just add a few buffed gents, find a new room, and you’re home.
“Rouge,” produced and directed by Hanoch Rosènn, is hustling to its opening at The Strat Theater. Previews begin Saturday. The shows run 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (dark Mondays), with an additional show at 8 p.m. Tuesdays. Tickets run $49, $99 for VIP (not including fees), on sale at TheStrat.com.
The adult revue joins mentalist Banachek, magician Xavier Mortimer and the glow-in-the-dark dancefest “iLuminate” in The Strat’s expanding lineup of Adam Steck/SPI Entertainment productions. All those shows go dark when Sammy Hagar returns with his Cabo Wabo-themed rock party.
We caught the new show in a late-night rehearsal Monday. The international cast is talented. It is certainly a hard-working bunch, turning in performance of more than two hours Monday and ending after midnight. “Rouge” bills itself as “The Sexiest Show in Vegas,” and actually forces that claim into its formal title.
That’s pure Rosènn, who parlayed his stage career in pantomime in Israel into cross-continental success story. The lifetime circus performer takes joy hyping his creations, as in, “Wow!” and also “Extravaganza!”
“We just want to be different,” says Rosènn, who now runs productions at three Vegas venues at the Rio, Bally’s and The Strat. “I am just bringing my own thoughts. I want it to be sexy, to be sensual. But I don’t want to show the body just to show the body, I want it to be artistic.”
Specifically, Rosènn wants to show to fill the void left by the closing of “Zumanity.” The Cirque production was adult in theme, but not topless, and played at a larger scale in a custom-designed theater at New York-New York.
“Rouge” is not that, but it is aggressively sexy, employing a high volume of side acts and a healthy measure of joke-telling. So Rosènn is rolling the bones with such rapid-fire lines as, “You’re making eye contact. Maybe later we can make with thigh contact.”
Ah, but there is more than skin and mirth in this show. The 19-member cast dances it up to the choreography of Nathan J. Clarke. His work has been seen on “The Voice UK,” and also during the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremonies in London. Lighting designer Charlie Morrison has worked on “Finding Magic Mike” for HBO Max, and the U.S. tours of US “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical” and “Disney’s The Little Mermaid.”
With that artistic equity, “Rough” mixes the sexes is a series of sensual scenes. The show hints to the quite good, but short-running “53x” at Chateau at Paris Las Vegas. That show closed (sorry, went on hiatus) in November 2016 after an eight-month run. “Rouge” adds to its semi-nekkid appeal with some very traditional acrobatic numbers, including a now-familiar, circular skating duo; hand balancers; aerial silks; and a water number in a giant martini glass. (That prop was donated to the artist, Ukraine native Yula Mykhailova, by her friends Jenny and Victor Arata of “V — The Ultimate Variety Show.)
There is fantasy-conceived storytelling, leading with a “Fifty Shades of Grey” bedroom number in which the bed stands facing the audience. Scenes splashed across the room’s imposing video screens include the Palace of Versailles, a football field, and the city of Rome (or maybe the Caesars Palace porte cochere). Comedy is infused throughout, carried by the witticisms of Zion Martyn as Dr. Libido and Poppy Fairbairn as Nurse Naughty. The double-entendres pause long enough for the good doctor to juggle a trio of adult toys. Martyn also wears a comically curled, handlebar moustache, and after the show we introduced him to images of Rollie Fingers. We are now hoping for an A’s/Padres/Brewers cap in this show.
The show is a significant effort by Rosènn, Steck and The Strat’s Golden Entertainment ownership team, which has shown its adventurism by opening the refreshed theater to so much variety. But bringing in an international variety production is not a fool-proof endeavor.
Rosènn’s D&A Entertainment Company has been blasted on Facebook on Monday by swing artist Antonio Granda Manza, who quit the company while claiming a long list of transgressions, among them haphazard and insensitive scheduling and an absence of a suitable contract. The post was volleyed around the Vegas entertainment community even as the “Rouge” cast rehearsed Monday night.
That message was dismissed within hours by a companywide statement. The production stated collectively that its “broken” schedule was required to get the numbers in shape for Saturday, and also because the theater available only outside of the performances of other shows. That printed sheet was signed by the cast, in the theater, Monday night.
Like a mime flicking crumbs from his shoulder, Rosènn seems to just brush off such criticism. The director of three shows is busy creating an alternate reality, and if not a Vegas production empire.
”I think this is a different show, because we have many great female revuses, ‘Fantasy’ and the ‘X’ shows. The male revues are fantastic, ‘Thunder,’ ‘Chippendales’ and ‘Magic Mike,’” Rosènn says. “Now we have male and female together. I think for the average couple, they want to see themselves onstage to identify with what is happening. They want to see these fantasies in front of their eyes.”
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.