Shared from the 2018-02-25 Las Vegas Review Journal eEdition

‘Le Reve’ revamp shrugs off Wynn scandal


A scene from “Le Reve,” playing at the Wynn Las Vegas
photo by Tomasz Rasso

IN the middle of it all, Wynn Las Vegas’ aquatic production show has been overhauled.

“Le Reve,” which opened the hotel in 2005 and has served as one of Steve Wynn’s many pet projects over the years, boasts new scenes, staging and costumes and a new music score. This work had been enacted before Wynn stepped down from the company on Feb. 6, 2018.

Similar to “Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers,” which closed its two-year run last December, “Le Reve” carries Wynn’s ever-present artistic imprint. He was involved in every facet of the show, from its early development under then-director Franco Dragone to its revamp over the past two years.

The man who worked at Wynn’s side during that two year stretch, famed director of spectacles Philip Wm. McKinley, has plainly stated his opinion about Wynn’s creative contributions. When asked if he would miss working with Wynn from a strictly artistic standpoint, McKinley responded with theatrical grandeur.

“The simple answer to that is anybody who ignores or devalues what Steve Wynn has done for Vegas is an idiot,” McKinley said during a phone interview last week. “I mean, I’ll be blunt about it. Do you take everything away? Do you take every single piece of success away? His value as a creative genius is not diminished. His talent doesn’t all of a sudden vanish into the ether.

“So yes, of course, as I would miss anyone with whom I’ve had such a relationship and collaborated with.”

In the revamp of “Le Reve,” McKinley has also worked on a tight team that included Wynn General Manager of Entertainment Operations Rick Gray; music director Benoit Jutras and lyricist Maribeth Derry, who developed 13 new songs in the new show; choreographer Marguerite Derricks; costume designer Suzy Benzinger and lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer.

Relaunched a couple of weeks ago, the production refocuses the storyline of main character The Dreamer, who is driven by competing forces “True Love and Dark Passion”

Moving away from the more obscure, implied plotline was important in keeping the performances sharp, McKinley said.

“The show has been amazing and the performers incredible, while dealing with an art form that is abstract in its very existence,” McKinley said. “It is not an art form that lends itself easily to linear storytelling. So the first thing he wanted was a clearer storyline, and the first thing we focused on was the story of the Dream Master, how to create that by integrating the principal performers more thoroughly through the show. We wanted to tell the story while not losing the abstract, nonlinear quality of linear art.”

But there are plenty of linear, sensory-stimulating qualities to the new “Le Reve.” The show features 16 fire-belching devices, 172 fountains, a dozen umbrella-fashioned waterfalls, a rain curtain of nearly 50 feet tall and also a360-degree wall of water in the theater-in-the-round design.

A passionate artist in all of his projects, McKinley said he plans to remain a part of the Wynn creative team for the foreseeable future.

“I would enjoy that very much. I enjoy being there, I enjoy working with Rick Gray, and we have worked together many times already,” McKinley said. “This process makes me exercise every aspect of my creativity, and that’s what I love about it.”

He then chuckled and added, “In a week or so, we’ll know about a new project that will be happening in Las Vegas. I’ll tease you just a little bit.”John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @ JohnnyKats1 on Instagram