“Feel the Energy of NYC” at Mad Apple

If you love live music, Cirque du Soleil, next-level dance choreography, outrageous comedy and the idea of combining acrobatics with basketball, then Mad Apple is the best new live production to catch in Las Vegas, providing you have no fear of a stand-up guy with no filter possibly sitting in your lap.

Comedian Harrison Greenbaum has a good eye for people who look like potential audience participants, so there’s no worries that he’ll bypass clear body language or expressions of terror if he steps offstage to find someone with whom he can get up close and personal. For the most part, he transgresses boundaries with verbal barbs and risque roasting of guests in the front rows, wearing a suit like a classic comic from the Johnny Carson era of The Tonight Show.

He’s thoroughly modern, though, and any targets of his humor find themselves laughing too hard to be offended. Greenbaum’s sets combine with high-energy dance segments and musicians weaving through the venue to create cohesive threads that tie the acts together. Set in the winding alleys of New York-New York’s promenade district, Mad Apple is like no previous Cirque du Soleil production.

For one thing, it’s designed for mature audiences. Minors must be accompanied by an adult unless they are under 16, in which case they can’t attend. This leaves Greenbaum room to free associate without having to self-censor, and he takes full advantage.

For another, there’s no theme other than New York’s all-encompassing energy interpreted by a slamming five-piece band, five exuberant dancers and six singers, one of whom is music director Xharlie Black. Vocalists may break into song from anywhere in the venue at the conclusion of breathtaking acts that include hoop diving, hand balancing, aerial pole maneuvering and hair hanging.

That’s right, cast member Danila Bim spins at breakneck speeds while hanging from her hair. Sympathy for her scalp is quickly overcome by suspense as she becomes a blur of oscillation. The dancers become blurs of motion at times as well, exhibiting skills and stamina that bring the adjective “superhuman” to mind.

They dance like they have the most coveted gigs on the Strip, a notion flame-haired stepper Lizzie McConachie expresses in a meet-the-cast video. “When they first told me the concept of the show and what was in it, the music and the styles, it was just like my perfect dream show to watch,” she says. “I just so wanted to be in it, so it’s a no-brainer.”

It’s also a no-brainer for musicians who get to represent Manhattan with a passage from Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and a chance for drummer Bruce Briggz to get wicked while getting out from behind his kit. Meanwhile, the Wheel of Death puts a new spin on a daredevil tradition, and the Acro-Dunkers do things with basketballs the Harlem Globetrotters never dreamed of. Arrive early to be part of Mad Apple’s pre-show bar scene; then settle in for an evening of entertainment with an urban edge.

{ SOURCE: MATT KELEMEN, Las Vegas Magazine }