REVIEW: Jabbawockeez (Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, Las Vegas)

image[I was originally going to post this to Yelp back in February 2012, and I still may, but I was so utterly disappointed in this show that I actually held off publishing this thinking that maybe over time, my opinion would change.  Well, it didn’t.  And I don’t have the time to cull the review down to a size that will fit a single Yelp post so… maybe later.  Until then, here’s the review in its entirety.]

I’m sorry but this show is borderline awful.

I would, if I could, ask for a complete refund. Not since Tony & Tina’s Wedding of the Imperial Palace Luau have I felt this un-entertained. I don’t even know where to begin so I’m just going to going to go “stream of consciousness” on this review because I have too many negative thoughts and not enough ways to communicate them.

IT’S A GENERATIONAL THING
First of all, I wanted to leave 30 minutes into the show because while I give every show a fighting chance to prove their ticket value, it was really clear early on that it just wasn’t going to improve. I think this show basically comes down to a simple rule: If you’re over the age of 30, you’re not likely going to enjoy this show. This is a show for the current generation… at most. And you’ve got to REALLY like dance crew culture to appreciate this performance because there’s very little else to latch on to.

And clearly there were some groupies of dance crews in the audience – or at least Jabbawockeez – because the far right side of the theatre had these groups of 15-20 or so kids screaming during what can only be considered odd times to be cheering. The guy in the back of me audibly wondered if they were ‘plants’ because none of us could understand why people were whooping & hollering during many, frankly, uninteresting segments of the show. The constant synthetic urging of audience participation was a little much for me personally and after about 30 min, the “audience participation” was clearly sounding contrived and fake.

A REALLY CONFUSING 1/3rd STANDING OVATION
And then there was the whole ‘standing ovation’ at the end. A patch of people in one area to the far right of the stage stood up clapping and cheering wildly, encouraging others around them to do the same until about a 1/3rd of the theatre was standing. I clearly wasn’t the only one confused: There were at least 8 or 9 people around me looking around at each other saying, “Are you serious? A standing ovation?” I muttered, “Oh gawd, what hell is this?” and that sent the entire row headed toward the exits leaving a showroom littered with a peculiar mix of applauding young folk & disinterested middle aged folk evacuating their seats frantically to head out the door & otherwise escape the monotony of the closing.

Oh. And that leads me to the eeriest moment of the night: Walking out of the showroom. Once the clapping ended, no one was talking. It was dead silent – and you could practically hear a pin drop in the cavernous auditorium. Normally people are talking about the show, chatting with their friends, discussing the performances or at least asking the age old question, “Did you like the show?”… but not here. I just remember it being so quiet, it was as if people were either really focused on getting out, or really tired from the 90 minutes.

WAYYYYY TOOOOO LONNNNNG
Going back to the performance, what I remember very distinctly was that I kept… looking… at… my watch. The show was basically 60 minutes too long. The most intricate and sophisticated routines could have been put into the first 30 min and the rest of the show could have been lopped off. The folks next to me were all in their 30’s and there was more than a noticeable amount of yawning going on.

Something else that was just really odd was how uncomfortable the show felt as a spectator. What I mean by that is there were just really unsettling, long wafts of silence that permeated the performance. No oohing, no clapping, no NOTHING: Just people looking around with that queasy “Uh, are we supposed to be… clapping… or… doing something right now?”

Another thing I remember very distinctly was the massive gaps in seating. I bought the best tickets available, ended up 6 rows from the front, and yet, there were HUGE strips of empty seats in front of me for 3-4 rows. We’re talking blocks of 15-20 seats at a time in a single row, which baffled the strangers sitting next to me when I asked them if they’d noticed the same. We’d all bought the best seats in the house online and saw better seats lying empty before us. WTF?

ASIAN NETWORKING
I know I’m betraying the Asian brotherhood by posting this here – but man, I just wouldn’t come back to see this show even if my niece begged me. The thing I seem to have noticed is that Jabbawockeez , seems to depend heavily on their “street team”. The fan club or “activist marketing” folk have a base of operations at http://jabbawockeez.org/ and hype up what I can only describe as guerilla marketing on behalf of Jabbawockeez , which is of course great business, but it can disingenuously slant perceptions.

Like when, say, they all publish gushing yet thoughtless 5-star reviews on sites like, oh, I don’t know… YELP.

And let’s not kid ourselves here: A large segment of the fan base are Asians. After all, Jabbawockeez is largely an Asian crew, and we Asians are stereotypically hip, clique-ish, know technology really f’ing well, heavily-networked, family-oriented, and dammit, we’re loyal. So it’s not surprising to see all these Yelp 5-star reviews – some from complete noob orangeheads, some from heavily-opinionated & experienced Elite.

The sad part is, I do think the dancers are very talented, exceptionally athletic & have great personality. The problem is, that doesn’t appear to be enough to carry a Vegas show for 90 minutes and remain entertaining to at least this reviewer. None of that matters if the production is poorly scripted, and that’s the problem I think we have here.

2-stars. Only because I’m not convinced it’s the performer’s fault they’re in a wholly uninteresting show.

—————————-
SHOWS I’D RATHER SEE OVER JABBAWOCKEEZ
Look out… because there’s a lot of them.  Here’s just a short list:

  • Absinthe
  • Jersey Boys
  • Human Nature
  • Penn & Teller
  • Blue Man Group
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