Britney Spears has begun her early retirement in Las Vegas with a show that looks strikingly like the eye-popping Cirque du Soleil productions found elsewhere on the Strip.
The debut of Spears’ long-term casino gig Friday kept an audience of about 4,500 on their feet for 90 minutes.
The young-for-Vegas crowd was there for the danceable hits and the spectacle, which included acrobatics, a ring of fire, confetti, a live band, frenetic costume changes and a frequently airborne Spears.
The show’s production values are unusually high for a casino residency, often calling to mind the golden age of music videos. Its high-concept set pieces featured a cadre of backup dancers who danced in human-sized hamster wheels and somersaulted over the Grammy-winning star.
Spears, 32, has signed on to perform 50 shows each in 2014 and 2015 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
She cuts a different figure from the typical Strip headliner. Other successful Las Vegas acts – including Shania Twain, Elton John and Celine Dion – have generally attracted an older audience. Judging from Friday’s show, her fans are more likely to be found at a casino mega-club than in front of a slot machine.
Still, the show is not immune to nostalgia. It includes several callbacks to the 1990s and early 2000s, including plaid shirts tied around dancers’ waists and a recap of the barely-there sparkling costume Spears wore in the “Toxic” music video.
Officials with Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns Planet Hollywood, say Spears sings her entire set. Entertainment Programming Vice President Kurt Melien said she sings against a recorded track of her vocals to help her through the more physically grueling parts of the set, and add the electronic undertones that characterize many of her songs.
Younger divas Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry lent moral support from the audience.
Casino executives say the show may be extended if it proves a success.
Actress Mary Tyler Moore is 77. Actor Jon Voight is 75. Country singer Ed Bruce is 74. Flutist Ray Thomas (Moody Blues) is 72. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 67. Actor Ted Danson is 66. Singer-actress Yvonne Elliman is 62. Actress Patricia Clarkson is 54. Comedian Paula Poundstone is 54. Actor Jason Gould is 47. Actor Jude Law is 41. Actor Mekhi Phifer is 39. Country singer Jessica Andrews is 30.
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