Offbeat Antics and Artistic Talents Abound at “Mad Apple”

If you know the definition of “double entendre,” you meet the criteria for being an audience member at next-level variety show Mad Apple. Risqué comedy is the thread that ties the variety show’s dynamic acts together within a theater that has the only stage-side bar on the Strip. Ticket holders are encouraged to arrive early to order drinks and mingle with an assortment of cast members who clown around or perform sleight of hand before showtime.

This is the world Cirque du Soleil has created inside New York-New York. It’s an urban cabaret that brings together acrobatics, live music, singing, dancing, comedy, shadow puppetry and magic in an environment geared toward a more adult demographic than most Vegas productions. Emceed by “The GM” and given voice by singing music director Xharlie Black, Mad Apple makes an indelible floor-to-ceiling impression on all witnesses.

The show has 16 acts in its stable, with up to 13 starring in every performance. The common factor among them all is electricity. With a large mirrored Forbidden Apple as the set design centerpiece, the talent train usually begins with juggler Adam Kuchler before Taxi Tumblers Tomas Alemu and Tamrat Ayalew flip out the crowd with their variation on Icarian Games, a time-honored acrobatic tradition.

Erin Blaire’s high-altitude En Vogue act descends into view from above. Spinning in mid-air while a healthy head of human hair enables her to be suspended above the stage is an unforgettable sight to behold without feeling some sort of empathetic tingling in the scalp. It’s hard enough for limber people to do a split, let alone execute one while supported by one’s own long locks. Blaire makes it look absolutely effortless.

Gravity defying continues with the City of Dreams segment of the show featuring duo straps daredevils Stephen Brine and Sara Knauer, and single cradle specialists Dima Liubashenko and Lena Tereshchenko. Both acts are aerial and depend on strength, muscle memory and, above all, trust between partners.

Teamwork trust is the common denominator that creates synergy between the hoop diving and acro dunking teams during The Game, a segment of the show that’s also about split-second timing but more fantastic than gymnastic. The participants are blurs of motion as they dive through small circles or take basketballs places the sport’s inventors never imagined.

Gymnastics enthusiasts may recognize world champion bronze medalist Valentin Chetverkin demonstrating hand balancing skills, while rotating contraption Wheel of Death may be familiar to habitues of neo-circus productions. High-energy musical interludes and dynamic dance choreography keep the show moving at a brisk pace.

Black, a nephew of Nat King Cole and cousin to Natalie Cole, sings with Mad Apple’s troupe of vocalists as well as leading the musicians. Trombonist/keytarist Tracyan Martin, trumpeter Isaac Tubb, sax player JF Blais and drummer Bruce Briggz are the original cast members among the ensemble, a testament to the fact that they have some of the most coveted gigs on the Strip in a show that has achieved must-see status among audiences seeking the adult side of Vegas entertainment.

{ SOURCE: Las Vegas Magazine }