Las Vegas can offer so much to please the senses during the Chinese New Year: from specialty foods, teas and spa services to a variety of decor and traditional celebrations like the Lion Dance, Money Trees and telling of Chinese fables and tales. This is one of the most family friendly times in Las Vegas, and an opportunity to expose your children to a new cultural experience. While taking in the delights of celebrating the Year of the Horse, consider adding the new show PANDA! at The Palazzo Las Vegas, to your itinerary.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to preview the PANDA! show with my children on its opening night. Beyond the A-list of local Las Vegas celebrities walking the Red Carpet that night, also included an impressive one from my past- former U.S. Olympian in Women’s Gymnastics, Cathy Rigby. Ms. Rigby presented the creators of the show, directed by creative genius An Zhao,and produced by a team whose impressive credits include the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing. Living in a town whose entertainment schedules are dominated by Cirque du Soleil, there is bound to be some competition and comparison of the two shows. I have to say, I was quite impressed, and it was a nice change from the dark, whimsy of Cirque.
A more lovable, comical adventure of a Panda in search of his captured Peacock Princess bride by the villainous vultures through the various terrains found throughout China. The fumbling Panda (yes, it really is an acrobatic performer dressed in a panda costume) meets along the way several warriors, troupes and monks who help train the Panda in the ways of Kung Fu, martial arts, agility and grace through music, dance and high flying acrobatics. These trainers, in real life, are from the China National Acrobatic Troupe and Shaolin Monastery Kung Fu Monks Troupe.
If your children have seen the movie or series Kung Fu Panda and enjoyed it, they will also enjoy this production. The Kung Fu Panda movies and characters have been an all time favorite of my son’s and it was the first comment he made while watching the show. The costumes are gorgeous; my favorite being the Peacock Princess and some of the dancers who performed traditional Chinese dances. Another production aspect being brought to modern day stages is the background with the special affects that create a virtual sense of being in the actual place and time, allowing audience members to really feel like they are apart of the Panda’s journey.
Though there are a few instances where the production becomes a bit frightening, mainly when the vultures appear, the show itself is delightful, fun and interactive. Pandas encourage the audience to dance, and be prepared, as you may be selected to dance on stage with one of the fun-loving pandas. My children are 9 and 7 and had no problem staying focused on the show. PANDA! runs about 1.5 hours with no intermission. Alocholic beverages are available, along with bottled water, sodas and local favorite popcorn boutique selections from popped! Popcorn.
After the show, take advantage of some of the festive Chinese New Year decorations and The Year of the Horse display at The Waterfall Atrium at The Palazzo Las Vegas.
PANDA! performs Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at The Palazzo Theater. For up-to-date schedule information, including dark dates, or to purchase tickets ($48-$128), visit any Venetian or Palazzo Box Office, go online to www.venetian.com/panda, or call 702.414.9000.