By Owen Bryant
When one thinks of a “cirque-style” revue, what often comes to mind are elaborate productions with dazzling music and lights, otherworldly costumes, insane acrobatics and sets that make you wonder if you’ve been dropped into some psychedelic alien world. The themes, as far as the official Vegas cirque shows go, can be loose, like Mystère’s or O’s desert vs. water shows. Or they can be more specific, like the all-Beatles themed Love.
The Theatre’s newest ongoing production takes the more specific route with #Millennial (pronounced with the hashtag). In true millennial fashion, the theme boldly speaks for itself right up front in the show’s title.
I don’t think it is very fair to compare this show to an actual Cirque du Soleil show, nor expect it to replicate one. Productions of that scale rarely come to Reno, and it would be quite a feat to pull off in such a space as The Theatre. But #Millennial does bill itself as a cirque-style show, so there are certain expectations.
Some of those expectations are met, but #Millennial obviously has its own drumbeat it wants to follow that cause it to stray away from the mysticality of cirque and more toward the cheeky caricature of burlesque.
Right off the bat I must clarify, this is a small-scale, local production. Do not expect a full-on cirque-style show. However, with the limited resources I’m assuming they had to pull this together, it is obvious the cast and crew have put their hearts and souls into bringing something entertaining to the stage.
The cast of eight dancers, acrobats, singers and comedians tirelessly perform each scene with vim and hardly a break before they must run backstage, change outfits and do it all again for the next act.
There is a bit of everything, from hip hop dancing to silk acrobatics, juggling to contortion, even a roller-skating bit with a dude in a laser-studded biker jacket that made me wonder for a moment if I had been teleported to a production of Starlight Express.
The acts were prefaced by video clips featuring random bits of millennial culture, such as commercials and clips from TV shows and music videos.
The emcee, Reno’s very own drag star Aspen Meadows, allowed the cast enough time for their scene breaks with her comedic interludes. Aspen is a gorgeous queen in her own right, but be warned, her humor is what you would expect from a typical drag show. She is sultry and playfully snide, and adult themes are common in her quips, so this may not be the best show for younger audiences. Not saying this is a bad thing at all, though. Aspen handles her role as emcee like a pro.
I also have to give credit to the show’s producer and performer, Sarah Sperber, who obviously had a vision and lends her pipes to a few of the live songs throughout.
My main criticism concerns the overall cohesion of the show. I understand that millennials are a treasure trove of thematic material, but I wasn’t quite sure what statement the show was trying to make, if any. The show is more about highlighting the stereotypes of the millennial identity and culture rather than making any kind of statement, which is fine, but it doesn’t provide for much movement or catharsis.
There were also some obvious differences in talent levels. There were no bad performers; please understand they are all talented people, but it was sometimes awkward seeing some excelling while others appeared to struggle a bit.
For sure, #Millennial has some good things going for it, and as an ongoing show, they have plenty of time to refine any kinks that arise. I am delighted to see anything performing on that stage again.
Before The Theatre, that space was the TMCC theater, a nightclub, and even a Rocky Horror theater way back in the ‘80s. Reno cannot lose any of its precious theater spaces, so it’s great to see impassioned local artists giving their all to the community.
For that reason alone, I would say check the show out. It’s easy entertainment and supporting the local arts is so important, now more than ever.
#Millennial plays at The Theatre every Friday night. For tickets, visit www.MILLENNIALRENO.eventbrite.com