'Zumanity' to Boost Vegas' Sex Quotient

Love seats, sensual perfume and ID checks at the door - all part of Cirque du Soleil's new show

By: Kathy Espin

First, Cirque du Soleil changed the whole meaning of the word “circus” with its animal-free, European-style show.

Now, the attraction is rein-venting itself with an adult version, “Zumanity,” scheduled to open July 31 at the MGM Mi-rage’s New York-New York Hotel and Casino.

How adult? Well, no one under 18 will be admitted.

“We will reveal another side of Cirque du Soleil,” the director, Rene Richard Cyr, says in a Cirque statement. “This production will be an intense visit to a world where human inhibitions are both unveiled and discarded, where style and intense sensual passion share an uncommon stage.”

The show, which has an in-ternational cast of 40 performers and 10 musicians, will take over the space formerly occupied by Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance.” The theater has been gutted and completely renovated to include love seats and bar stools in addition to traditional theater-style seats.

The show is a complete departure from the other two Cirque shows, “Mystere” and “O,” which have become mainstays of the Las Vegas Strip.

In 1992 the troupe’s “Nouvelle Experience” opened in a tent in the Mirage parking lot. It was intended to run for a few weeks but ended up selling out for a year, prompting the Mirage Corp. to commission a new version, “Mys-tere,” for the December 1993 opening of Treasure Island. “Mystere” is still there and selling out regularly at $80 or more per ticket.

On the theory that it is impossible to have too much of any highly successful thing, the Cirque masterminds then were hired to develop a show for the Mirage Corp.’s Bellagio when it opened in October 1998. The result was “O,” an eye-popping spectacular that sells 2,000 tickets per night at $110-plus per seat.

In 2000 Mirage Corp. sold its holdings to the MGM Grand, creating MGM Mirage. New company, new management but the love affair with Cirque goes on. Now, the company has con-tracted with Cirque to develop a replacement for “EFX,” which closed recently at the MGM Grand.

That show, not yet named, is in production.

For now, the Las Vegas entertainment community is abuzz over “Zumanity,” which a local gossip column said originally was planned to be a clown show.

A recent preview event gave the press a glimpse of Thierry Mugler’s sexy costumes and introduced the cast.

Officials evaded questions about total nudity in the show but did say that erotic sexuality can be expected and a promotion poster features a hazy image of a nude man and woman in a balletic pose.

“Zumanity” creative director, Lyn Heward, said exotic fragrances will be used in the theater to spice up the environment.

Priority bookings can be made at www.zumanity.com, with tickets at $55 for cabaret stools and $75 for theater seats, including tax. Love seat and sofa tickets are sold only in pairs, at $150 and at $190.

“Zumanity” will be performed Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Information on individual tickets, 702-740-6815; for groups of 12 or more, 702-740-6317.