Self-described as the "sensual side of Cirque du Soleil," ZUMANITY, the resident spectacular at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, blatantly strived to be sexual and shocking. However, despite utilizing such taboo vehicles as homo and bisexuality, androgyny, sadomasochism, multiracial relationships and other "adult" themes to express the company's amazing albeit eccentric skill set, the audience ceased to be shocked by anything but the show's combination of artistry, talent and top-notch entertainment.
Upon entering the venue, various vampy, scantily clad characters posed provocatively, staring down audience members on the way to their seats. Strategically placed plush, scarlet furniture such as a gothic bedroom set alluded to the program's impending themes. However, the entry of the narrators "Izzy," a zany comedienne who searches for her "boyfriend" among male audience members throughout the evening and "Antonio," an off-the-wall gigolo with an affinity for sex toys, quickly counterbalanced the initially spooky feel, imbuing the show with a kind of "Rocky Horror Picture Show"-esque combination of innuendo and camp. Supplementing the kooky ensemble with frequent reappearances, supporting characters such as the she-male "Mistress of Seduction," two portly, comedic French-maids in the sheerest of getups and the "genderless" AlmuKataB added additional intrigue.
Each and every ensuing act was uniquely memorable, requiring the highest degree of physical ability and craftsmanship. In the "Waterbowl" piece, two topless young, female contortionists performed incredible, elastic handstands with unspeakably bent backs before plummeting into the water within a large, spherical vessel, where they kissed and fondled one another affectionately to the music's celestial strains. The ferocious energy of a male and female African dance duo then overtook the stage as the gorgeous, ebony-skinned couple moved at top speed, throwing themselves onto and popping effortlessly up from the stage. Later, a sexy schoolgirl maintained a multitude of hula hoops on various parts of her tiny body as, attached to a cabled harness, she shimmied and shook rapidly, hoisted higher and higher above the audience's admiring gaze.
A highlight of the show's latter half featured an interracial male duo, who mock-fought in a beautifully choreographed number performed within a cage's confines. The men performed a kind of gymnastic tango, lifting one another and eventually kissing one another at great length. Then, in one of the evening's most awe-inspiring pieces, a midget paired with a beautiful blonde swirled around the auditorium attached to swathes of rippling white cloth, incorporating unthinkable midair acrobatics, balletic poses and inverted over-splits. Any trace of societal discomfort regarding the man's small stature was instantly replaced with admiration as he appeared the epitome of well-proportioned manliness, confidence, skill and strength.
Like many Las Vegas spectacles, ZUMANITY offered its public not just a top-quality performance, but a totally transporting, thematic experience including such "sexy" appetizers as an assorted fruit and cheese tray and their signature "Zumanitini" to imbibe. Adding to the ambience was ZUMANITY's superb soundtrack, which combined the pulsating influences of such musical genres as urban, classical, rock and world to create an alluring vibe. And, with a titillating cast of characters, each dressed more provocatively than the next in an assortment of lingerie and other voyeuristic, strategically cut-out attire, it was impossible to turn one's eyes away from ZUMANITY's "human zoo," even before their dazzling dance and circus sections displayed their superhuman stamina.
Writer and Director : Dominic Champagne
Writer and Director : René Richard Cyr
Director of Creation : Andrew Watson
Creator and Costume Designer : Thierry Mugler
Set Designer : Stéphane Roy
Composer : Simon Carpentier
Choreographer : Debra Brown
Choreographer : Marguerite Pomerhn Derricks
Lighting Designer : Luc Lafortune
Sound Designer : Jonathan Deans
Comedic Director : Cal McCrystal
Photographer and Projection Designer : Natacha Merritt
Make-up Designer : Nathalie Gagné
Rigging and Acrobatic Equipment Designer : Jaque Paquin
Props Designer : Normand Blais
Additional Music and Lyrics : Anna Liani