Large-scale spectacular 'Awakening' hits Las Vegas Strip
When the long-running Wynn production show Le Reve closed during the pandemic in 2020, many wondered what might replace it.
And along came Awakening.
But it’s more than a replacement. It’s the Las Vegas Strip’s first large-scale spectacular in many years. At $120 million, it’s one of the most expensive shows, and theater construction projects, on the Strip.
Baz Halpin is the show’s producer and director. His live-production resume includes concerts for superstars like Taylor Swift and Britney Spears. He joined State of Nevada host Joe Schoenmann along with Michael Curry, a producer and character designer.
"We had a vision to create a new form of a Las Vegas spectacle, and something that built on the traditions of everything that's worked, and been successful over many years, but also brought it deep into the 21st Century," Halpin said. "So we wanted to create a show that utilized not only the latest technologies and special effects, but also performance styles, and infuse it with incredible storytelling, music, and visuals."
He said they created a story that's digestible, easily relatable and "a myth that was familiar to people."
Essentially, it's a love story.
"Something that's about the humanity of what can happen when two people are in love, when people fall apart, and how they can get back together," he said.
The show is in a 360-degree round theater with 1,600 seats, but the furthest seat is only 75 feet from the stage.
"The opportunity that's presented in Las Vegas is one-of-a-kind, of fulfilling a promise ... but that it is going to go further and be more spectacular, more beautiful, more extravagant," Halpin said.
Curry's puppet design skills helped bring Disney's Lion King to life on Broadway. He's also worked for Cirque du Soleil on shows like Ka and The Beatles LOVE.
"One of the things that we employ is our fantastic characters," he said. "In some cases, puppets, in some cases, what we call structural costumes, in some cases, animatronics. Very futuristic looking devices that are ... they're really compelling and make you look, make you really focused. Therefore, you can tell the story through them."
He said he likes to put the audience on the edge of questioning if something is real or synthetic.
"We also know that in Las Vegas, the audiences are there in a special place. They really are unlike any other audiences anywhere in the world," he said.
Baz Halpin, producer and director, Awakening; Michael Curry, producer and character designer, Awakening