AREA 15's modern take on burlesque exceeds the highest expectations...



Wow! See 'RATED: RED' right away!

How's that for a concise review? Well, that's my response to RATED: RED, a brand-new adult revue. I could just give it an "A" grade, post a link to the ticketing site, and call it a day. But RATED: RED deserves a lot more...like a tidal wave of positive buzz and a successful following. Unique among innovative productions, it harkens memories of FUERZA BRUTA, the brilliant but short-lived spectacle at Excalibur. In our current volatile entertainment environment, that could make its success a bit tricky.

RATED: RED  does have a few factors working against it. The show only performs on Friday nights. There are no marketable stars attached to the project. It's at AREA 15, that neon-drenched WTF that I still haven't figured out. And yet, it succeeds. In fact, RATED: RED couldn't hit closer to the bullseye. It's lean, mean, slick, sexy, gasp-inducing, and super fast-paced.  

RATED: RED Live Band

"A modern take on such-and-such" is an over-used marketing approach for Vegas shows. Most topless revues reference classic burlesque in their descriptions but don't truly offer anything new. RATED: RED is its own beast. The cast of roughly sixteen consists of men, women, and a few androgynous members who are all young, athletic, very attractive, and extremely talented. The show is thankfully devoid of a blabbermouth host (hear that, Magic Mike Live?). In fact, the only talking you'll hear is from a few pre-recorded transitions and the vocals of voluptuous singer/dancer Sophia Monica (Zombie Burlesque). 

Studly Musical Director Steve Weiss (sporting a bare chest and bulging biceps) and his musicians Sam Lemos, Nick Schmitt, and Jason Corpuz fill the room with a sultry atmosphere as guests arrive, then pop back onstage throughout the production. The rest of the sounds are provided by pre-recorded tracks, much of it revamped versions of songs from the likes of Britney Spears, Billie Eilish, and Dua Lipa. Cheeky titles like Pussy Liquor and Gucci Cucci will remind you that none of this is to be taken very seriously.

One thing that CAN be taken seriously is the performance venue. THE PORTAL is a cavernous, multi-purpose space utilizing hi-tech wizardry to transport you to different locations. Synchronized projections will have you believing that you're underwater, inside a darkened warehouse, or moving through a heightened reality at varying speeds. The technology is used to great advantage, complimenting the live antics for a lean sixty minutes. 

Seats of various heights, widths, and comfort (front-row sofas are available for premium ticketholders) surround a three-sided stage, with performers entering from the left, right, behind, and directly through the audience. Choreography by Jawkeen Howard and Starley Anne Carrington is superlative throughout, mixing Fosse-style glamour with EDM beats. Thank goodness the cast is up to the task, which requires extreme amounts of athleticism, gravity-defying moves, passionate foreplay, and even a pole dance or two. 

RATED RED - :30 Sneak Peak

With so many new productions failing to live up to expectations, sometimes it's best to go in "blind". I knew next to nothing about RATED: RED before attending, and left as a fan. Congratulations to the cast and crew for assembling something worthy of seeking out. I hope this modern take on burlesque has a long, healthy run. I'll definitely be returning in the future. 

RATED: RED performs Fridays at AREA 15. Showtimes are 9 pm and 11 pm. Tickets start at $75 (plus taxes/fees) and can be ordered here. AREA 15 is located at 3215 S. Rancho Drive near Palace Station Casino. Take I-15 to Sahara Avenue exit and head west. Turn south onto S. Rancho Drive.

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