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In depth

Brian Burke and the Art of Las Vegas Headline Show Production

Interview with Brian Burke, Artistic Director of Le Rêve at Wynn, Las Vegas.

In addition to his work as artistic director for Le Rêve and for Celine Dion’s show at Caesars, Burke created and directed four original productions at Muscle Theater in Tokyo, Japan, is director/co-conceiver of ‘One Love – Imagining Harold Arlen, ‘ and was U.S. director/production supervisor for seven international touring companies of Tap Dogs. He has staged and directed performances for Elton John, Bette Midler, Dancing With The Stars, The 2002 Winter Olympics, The Tonight Show, The Oprah Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Wayne Brady Show, Penn & Teller, Larry King, Jerry Lewis, Taro Takahase, Discovery Channel, House Of Blues, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Panasonic, Paul Mitchell, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Redken.

By Chad Emerson

Share with us how you became involved with the Le Rêve show.

I was working with Franco Dragone on the Celine Dion show at Caesars Palace when the artistic director position at Le Rêve, another one of Franco’s shows, became available. One of my first efforts was to work with Steve Wynn to make the show more romantic and more of a complete story. The show had already debuted but we knew it needed more story, more cohesion in it—the script. After a great deal of work, today, all of the major aspects of the new script have been implemented. It is now a living, breathing piece of art.

What were some of the creative inspirations for the production?

One was the Wynn resort itself. From the moment you walk into the hotel, you encounter bright flowers and romance themes in the design and décor. We continue this theme into the theater and the show. The romance theme begins as soon as the guest enters the hotel and continues to unfold in the show. 

Le Rêve follows a woman who is romantically involved but confused. She meets these mixed emotions as she enters a dream world. This dream world—it’s the main setting of the show—envelops her in brilliant lighting and staging as the theater turns into an atrium of flowers. We cover the full sense of the dream throughout the show and we do it without using many words at all. It’s really a story told through emotion and the visual instead of words and dialogue.

Since opening, how has the creative vision of the show evolved into its current form?

We’ve hopefully created an experience that people can better connect with. The goal is that everything that you would experience during a real dream you experience during the show. We wanted to create a sense of authenticity yet still one where people felt romance and love.

Las Vegas is filled with many great shows. What makes Le Rêve unique from a creative perspective?

The theater is the only one like it in the world. It is a unique “in the round” setting that uses the water and staging to tell an intimate and emotional story. We did this by reducing the total number of seats, making them bigger, and bringing the audience closer to the show. The show requires a very tall building because we drop the artists into the scenes from very high up. Yet, we’ve still been able to keep that intimacy so it does not feel like you are in a large theater.

Of all the various scenes in the show, what would you consider to be the most innovative and challenging from the production side?

Almost all of the show occurs in the air with the artists exiting underwater.  Indeed, there are almost no traditional exits from the stage. We have a great deal of activity and people working underwater for this reason. It requires a great deal of discipline and attention to detail when compared with a more conventional approach of simply having the artist leave behind a curtain.

Where the artist enters from and where they exit from is like a great puzzle.  The show is carefully scripted with all of these parts but most of this remains out of view of the guest. We don’t let the complexity of the show interrupt the intimacy and romance of the story.  It was really hard work to do this. We’re very proud of it.

See also:
Major International Amusement Park Chains: A Guide to Who Owns What
Theme Park Marketing Specialist Gretchen Hofmann Talks Business with Chad Emerson
Amusement parks: Theme Park Operations – A Conversation with Lee Cockerell

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