Fringe, sequins, pyro and lots of mirrors were the themes of a sold-out opening night as Carrie Underwood captivated her audience during “REFLECTION: The Las Vegas Residency,” christening the new Concerts West/AEG Presents Resorts World Theatre on Wednesday night.
In front of fans chanting her name — many of whom descended upon the Strip for National Finals Rodeo, which starts Dec. 2 — Underwood delivered a fiery 90-minute performance of feel-good hits from her 15-year career. The evening not only showed off her pristine vocal skills, but revealed what the theater offers artists in terms of technology and amenities.
“I’m at a place where we just want to take the best, most exciting parts of my tours, and the things we’ve learned in doing them and bring them to Vegas,” Underwood told Billboard in May. “I’m super excited to have a residency in this brand-new, amazing theater, and the possibilities are endless.”
The evening kicked off with “Cowboy Casanova,” as Underwood emerged from a hall of mirrors in a bejeweled white mini-dress with a long sweeping fringe. Dozens of Carries appeared on the stage’s panoramic screens. Another standout was “Before He Cheats,” where a car descended from the rafters and Underwood and her girl gang, wielding bats, set it ablaze.
“Jesus Take the Wheel” got the biggest roar from the rodeo-loving crowd, bringing many people to tears, while a lucky bachelorette joined Underwood onstage for “All-American Girl.”
For the grand finale, “Something in the Water,” a barefoot Underwood surrounded herself with waterfalls, closing the show soaked from head to toe in a gown that looked like cascading ripples of water.
Underwood used every inch of the 13,550-square-foot stage, which she shared with her eight-piece band, aerialists, acrobats, dancers and a virtual orchestra. L.A. costume designer and wardrobe stylist Emma Trask curated Underwood’s brand of rhinestone cowgirl, overseeing more than a half-dozen costume changes. A plunging pink ball gown, cinched with an oversize buckled black belt and matching studded boots, sparked the envy of every cowgirl in the house.
The theater is the seventh performance venue in Las Vegas designed by Scéno Plus, the Montreal-based firm headed by brothers Olivier and Vincent Berthiaume-Bergé, whose parents started the business in the ’80s.
“It was so important for us to make the artists and the guests feel like everybody’s getting the VIP treatment,” Olivier says. “It starts at the front door, and when you walk in the lobby you are stopped by this great chandelier. And the interior design concept, the level of finishes, the sophistication. That opens up when you walk in, and the special treatment that was given to the lightning, and of course, to the acoustics.”
The 5,000-seat theater features L-ISA hyperreal technology, an immersive audio experience with more than 200 L-Acoustics speakers. The orchestra seating has a flying buttress effect, making the furthest seat no more than 150 feet from the stage.
“This is the largest L-ISA install we have done,” says Scott Sugden, head of product and technology marketing with L’Acoustics. “Technology really empowers artists. As opposed to two big speaker stacks on each side, what we’ve done is make them a little bit smaller, and we made a whole bunch more of them.”
Backstage, the theater features multiple apartment-size dressing rooms, a garage so headliners can directly access the venue by car, a rehearsal space and dance studio, a recording studio, and on-site storage facilities.
Celine Dion was supposed to open the venue in early November but had to cancel due to a muscle spasm condition. That thrust Underwood, who has sold 66 million albums worldwide, into the top spot as the first residency. Underwood has already added six more dates in May to her slate.
She will soon be followed by Katy Perry, who takes over the theater on Dec. 29 and Luke Bryan on Feb. 11. Dion’s dates have yet to be rescheduled.
The $4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas, headed by former MGM Grand President Scott Sibella, opened in June and represents the Las Vegas debut of Malaysian gaming company Genting.
Two Black Cadillacs
Jesus Take the Wheel
All American Girl
Flat on the Floor
Before He Cheats
Something in the Water
Remaining REFLECTION: The Las Vegas Residency performance dates on sale now:
* December 2021: 3, 4, 8, 10, 11
* March 2022: 23, 25, 26, 30
* April 2022: 1, 2
Six new show dates go on sale Monday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. PST:
* May 2022: 11, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21