Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Jamie King and Simon Fuller’s “Q’Viva! (The Chosen)” at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday, May 26, 2012. ( Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com )
By Robin Leach, Las Vegas Sun and U.S. News Agency / Asian
It took four years and 90 minutes, but at the end, they hugged and held hands; superstars Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony mouthed the words “we did it.” In the audience, director Jamie King and producer Simon Fuller also high-fived with, “We did it.”
The four-year dream to pull off an international TV talent hunt for Latin American stars through 21 countries and seen weekly by more than 30 million viewers culminated with 52 artists showcasing their extraordinary music skills at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night.
From start to finish, J.Lo and Marc were under scrutiny by a sellout crowd as they reunited onstage for “Q’Viva! (The Chosen),” a Latin musical extravaganza that thrilled in an explosion of songs, dance, acrobatics and drummers in every color of the rainbow.
Fans were ecstatic with the songs, the action, the passion and certainly with the couple’s tender, emotional moment onstage during the finale when confetti cannons erupted in the Events Center.
“The Chosen” was a spectacle of Latin culture directed by Jamie, known for his recent work on Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” and Madonna’s Super Bowl 46 Halftime Show, and J.Lo and Marc’s hug was the dramatic crowning moment as “The Chosen” debuted to a sold-out crowd.
“The Chosen” featured the artists that J.Lo, Marc and Jamie discovered in the hit series, presented by BlackBerry and American Airlines and promoted by AEG Live (the entertainment conglomerate behind Celine Dion, Shania Twain and Rod Stewart at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace), and showcased diverse music, dance and cultural styles of the Americas. It marked the culmination of the journey the trio took throughout Latin America to uncover the Latin artists.
Jamie said: “The concept for the live show was inspired by ‘The Chosen’ themselves and the places they hail from — their stories, their countries, their regions and their shared history.”
The show was presented in five acts centered on:
1) “The Calling of The Chosen,” with performances by Ashanty Gonzalez Peralta and Musica Maya and an electrifying performance by Jennifer of “Lambada” and “On the Floor.”
2) “Family and Tradition,” with performances by Paolo Ramirez, the sensational Bomba dancers and a high-flying acrobatic Quebradita number by Hermanos Castro.
3) “Love and Passion,” highlighted by a special performance of “Aguanile” by Marc featuring sexy, sultry and high-energy mambo and tango numbers, with world champion tango artists German Cornejo and Gisela Galesassi, plus, “No Me Ames” by Barbara Munoz and Ektor Rivera.
4) “Revolution and Pride,” where the entire cast performed to “Latino America,” and Marc performed “Migente,” featuring Malambo and Flamenco performers.
5) “Festival and Unity,” where the 52-member cast closed with an energetic rendition of “Danza Kuduro.”
“The goal was to give the audience a taste of Latin culture by exploring the flavors of each country — from Argentina’s Tango and Malambo to Puerto Rico’s Bomba dancing and Brazil’s Capoeira,” Jamie added. “It’s a first-time, unprecedented extravaganza of Latin heritage, raw talent and a mesh of cultures from a variety of countries set on a world-class stage in Las Vegas.”
Throughout the show, other wonders of Latin America also were prominently featured, as iconic images and sounds culled from the Amazon, Chichen Itza, Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu, Patagonia, the Andes, the Atacama Desert, the Iguazu Falls, Christ Redeemer and more were shown on video screens serving as backdrops to the four stage setups.
Executive producer Simon Fuller, the British genius who created the “American Idol” format and manages everybody from Annie Lennox to Carrie Underwood to David and Victoria Beckham, said: “The ‘Q’Viva!’ spectacular live show was the perfect culmination of the TV series and celebrates our amazingly talented performers in the most powerful way.”
Simon, J.Lo, Marc and Jamie served as the executive producers of the TV series and live show.
“They even put up their own money to shoot the preliminary video and speculative start-up costs in order to sell the concept to 21 networks throughout South America,” one of the producers told me. “That’s a first, but that’s how committed and passionate four extraordinarily diverse people felt about the talents to be discovered in Latin American music. We shot in some pretty dangerous places and deep into the jungle.
“Their four-year dream was fulfilled tonight because ‘The Chosen’ became a groundbreaking TV series and live stage spectacle celebrating Latin culture, music and performance arts. They pulled it off brilliantly. … Now we hope it can find a permanent home in Vegas.”
Over the course of the series, the producing team narrowed down their choices from thousands to 200, then 100, and then the final 52 cast members who turned in some of the most passionate, frenzied, energetic and magnificent performances I have ever witnessed anywhere. Backstage, Jamie told me: “This has been an incredible journey. These remarkable artists have inspired all of us.”
Because of Saturday night’s success, the producing partners all plan to discuss this week how the spectacle can be staged on the Strip as a residency production.