REVIEW — V: The Ultimate Variety Show (Las Vegas)
With a roster comprised of seven acts and 11 talented entertainers, V — The Ultimate Variety Show’s assemblage of performers makes for a diverse and wildly entertaining show.
The varied acts range from comedy to thrills to magic, essentially making for a “greatest hits” compilation of Las Vegas hits. The seven distinctive acts move in rotation, trading off the stage over the course of the 75 minute show. Host Wally Eastwood, possessing the “fastest hands,” appears intermittently, stepping forth to regale the crowd with his inhuman juggling abilities and a sharp — and self deprecating — sense of humor.
Born into circus life, Eastwood is an astonishing talent: his routines include an alternating hat trick, mimicking a seal to catch rings tossed by audience participants, launching ping pong balls into the air — using only his mouth — and, most impressively, performing “Für Elise” (as well as touches of the Jaws and Halloween themes) by playing an electric keyboard with an arsenal of rubber balls.
Eastwood’s introduction gives way to a pair of Hungarian and Cuban acrobats, Iouri and Gabor. Iouri, a former traveling performer with the Ringling Bro’s circus, and Gabor, a former Hungarian International Circus performer, impress with a hand balancing act rivaling that of Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère. An exhibition of stamina and strength, the dynamic duo’s circus act is the least engaging of the bunch, but nonetheless remarkable.
The Quiddlers, or the “International Ambassadors of Physical Comedy,” delight with a whimsical and unique “little man” act set to the tune of the Village People’s iconic “Y.M.C.A.” and “Macho Man.” Bringing a bit of old school vaudevillian entertainment to Vegas, the bit is as campy and absurd as it is hilarious.
Jason Byrne, the magician of the production, seemed to be the most revered of the production with his seemingly supernatural ability to produce live birds out of thin air. A little old fashioned in nature and presentation, to be sure, but Jason’s sleight of hand is the most extraordinary excitement V has to offer — even if the “birds and magicians” shtick has well beyond dipped into cliché before 2017.
Aerial acrobat Shirley takes to the air, swinging and dangling on a rope 12 feet above the audience’s heads, showcasing her athleticism and flexibility. The routine is a familiar one to anyone who has seen even a small amount of Vegas productions — all of Cirque du Soleil’s half dozen shows, in particular, feature aerial acrobats — and as skillful as the display is, the act never quite reaches the heights of the competition.
Prop comedian Russ Merlin entertains with a cache of goofy masks, selecting four audience members — as fate would have it, I was one of them — to come on stage and serve as his live dummies. (Merlin equipped me with a mask that I can only describe as “Off-Brand Joan Rivers”.) With a designated hand signal and a tap of the shoulder, you’re helping entertain a sizable Las Vegas audience as a silent participator in Merlin’s gag — which, from what I could hear, was a priceless hit.
The finale comes as husband and wife team the Skating Aratas mount a circular rotating platform. Victor and Jenny’s act, teases Eastwood, leaves V’s nightly audiences on their feet. The pair gained speed, Victor extended Jenny into the air, their skates became blurs — and the audience members in center front row backed off as their seats would allow. With the duo twirling at high speeds, Victor hoists Jenny into the air, the two moving in sync to swing and spin and strike poses. Eastwood’s prophecy had proven correct: we were on our feet, cheering.
With a collected roster of impressive and crowd-pleasing acts, V — The Ultimate Variety Show is fun, entertaining and family-friendly. V performs nightly at the V Theater inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino’s Miracle Mile Shops. Performances are at 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Tickets start at $69.99.