After 15 years, Franco Dragone revisits his creation ‘O’

It’s not so easy to put the warm fuzzies into words. But you felt that rush of exhilaration the moment the welcome was shouted from the O Theater stage Thursday night. “Ladies and gentlemen!” was the call-out from the familiar audience member pulled onstage to start the proceedings.

That’s all the crowd needed to hear. The 1,800 or so in attendance roared. “O” then dove into a flawless performance, marking the show’s revival after 16 months away. It was too long between performances for the show’s passionate cast and crew. It was also an astonishingly long break for the man who made it all happen 25 years ago, the show’s creative founder Franco Dragone.

Dragone moved almost totally unrecognized and unimpeded with the crowd filing out of the theater. He said it had been 2006 or 2007 since he’d seen “O,” just as he had developed the Strip’s other aquatic masterpiece, “Le Reve” at Wynn Las Vegas.

Dragone does not like to revisit his former shows. He’s more superstitious than sentimental. Even behind his face cover (which he still wears in public places, to play it safe), you could tell he was smiling.

“What I will tell you is banal and all cliches, but what they do is so, so, so, impressive,” Dragone said during a walk from the O Theatre seating area to the lobby. “They respect every little detail. What they do is so very difficult, and maybe when people are watching, they don’t realize this. But here, we see the precision, every movement, every position of the body can send a different message.”

Dragone sent flowers to the “Mystere” cast on Monday, and again to the “O” team on Thursday. Cirque CEO Daniel Lamarre arranged for Dragone to have tickets to both shows, ending Dragone’s long break from stepping into a Cirque theater.

Though he had originally planned to be at “Mystere,” which he also conceived, Dragone held off to make “O” his first Cirque show in the pandemic.

Dragone is going to be more prevalent in Las Vegas this year and into 2022. His pre-show nightclub project with Criss Angel, originally titled Mr. Smiles & Molly but certain to be renamed, set to launch by the end of the year. That concept will be paired with Angel’s “Mindfreak” show at his Planet Hollywood theater (that show relaunches Wednesday).

Dragone also still has “Rise,” the outdoor acrobatic show, on the table for next year. Other concepts abound from his production company, and a refreshed version of “The House of Dancing Water” production is due to return to City of Dreams resort in Macau in 2022, too.

But Thursday was all Cirque nostalgia, as Dragone spoke immediately after “O.”

“I was fine at first, but strangely enough, during the show, I started to go, ‘Ooh! Ooh!’ when I saw something that affected me,” Dragone said. “I am happy for Daniel and all of the people in Cirque. Congratulations to them.”



{ SOURCE: John Katsilometes, Las Vegas Review-Journal }