Press Coverage

‘Fantasy’s’ Mariah Rivera Looks Beyond the Performance Stage

Mariah Rivera’s family owns a farm in Colorado. She spent her high-school years as a top athlete, drawing scholarship offers in volleyball and excelling as a sprinter, basketball player and even bodybuilder.

But in her heart, Rivera is a dance pro.

Since arriving in town in 2003, the “Fantasy” co-star has become a prominent member of the Las Vegas entertainment community. She’s trained on and off the stage with acclaimed choreographer and director Anita Mann and her sidekick, Beverly Jeanne. Rivera has ascended from dance line to high-level executive meetings, charting the show’s strategy with Mann and top MGM Resorts International officials.

On Jan. 19, Rivera was named the show’s co-producer. Already the show’s ranking official among cast members, Rivera now oversees the production’s public appearances, social-media campaign, and merchandise sales online and in Luxor’s Atrium Showroom. She also performs nightly onstage.

Rivera chatted this week about her new role, and how it all happened for her:

Johnny Kats: How was it that you arrived in Las Vegas in the first place?

Mariah Rivera: I moved to Vegas when I was 18, and my first job was at Show in the Sky at the Rio. I had been miserable at the time, picking peaches on my family’s farm in Grand Junction, Colo. I was not in the right place. So my mom actually said, “Just go to Vegas, audition for shows there for the summer and just come back if it doesn’t work out. I had danced from when I was 3 years old until I was 12, so I still had that education, and I went for it.

What was moving to Las Vegas like for an 18-year-old from Grand Junction?

I thought Las Vegas was going to be a bigger city, because Grand Junction is really small. But we have such a community in Las Vegas, I found that out right away. But I think I went to like 15 auditions in the first month and bombed every single one of them. It took me a minute to figure out what I was doing. I learned I didn’t want to be the first one at an audition, I’d wait in my car and have like 30 different outfits. Whatever everybody was walking in wearing, that’s what I’m gonna wear (laughs). I changed a lot in my car.

What happened after you started Show in the Sky?

I was in a bunch of shows in Vegas for about five years before I was in “Fantasy.” I was in a lot of magic shows, I was in “Erocktika” at the Rio, “Greg Thompson’s Showgirls” in Laughlin and at the Rio, Steve Wyrick’s magic show at Planet Hollywood, I did “Sin City Kitties” and “Rhinestone Cowgirls” down in Primm. I did many shows, but my goal was to be on the Strip.

Somehow I remember seeing “Sin City Kitties” in Primm and liking it. What was it like doing a topless show in Primm?

We had one 2 p.m. Sunday show, I think it was the last show we ever did. Yes, a 2 p.m. topless show in Primm. I think it was for a Japanese family of seven. The hard part was, it was actually such a good show, but it was tough because we had usually had an 8 p.m. show, when I was still a swing in “Fantasy” and trying to find my spot in the show. So I would drive from Primm to the Luxor and be to the theater at 10 p.m., barely on time to be in “Fantasy.”

How did you finally connect with “Fantasy?”

I had danced in shows in China and Italy and had just come back, and I saw a message on the “Fantasy” page. Or was it MySpace? I really think it was MySpace (laughs), and I messaged the page. I said, “I’d love to audition for your show.” Chris Judd was doing the choreographing, so I auditioned for Chris, Anita, and everyone else in the lobby of the Atrium.

How was it that you were able to be noticed in that “Fantasy” cast?

The girl I had replaced, Natasha (Bernasek), was a very Marilyn Monroe-type, and I was just not that type. I think Anita saw me as “not Natasha” for a while. But then her husband actually came to one of the media nights, and he really liked me. I think he said something nice, like, “Oh, she’s so cute. She’s the girl next door.” And then from that day on, I think she saw me as something other than that, and it changed her perception.

Do you see yourself as the girl next door?

I think I was at the time (laughs).

And you just gravitated into a more prominent role over the years, to dance captain and company manager?

Yes, the years just kept piling up, and I was like, “This is my job. This is my career.” Tracey (Gittins) was the dance captain, and when she left the show she suggested me for the position.

How did Anita notify you that you would be promoted?

It was 9 in the morning on a Sunday. I’m normally not up that early, but I had set the alarm because the Broncos were playing (laughs). And Anita says, “I won’t make this long, I know you’re going to watch football, but I’m giving you a promotion. You’re going to be a producer.” And I’m like, wait a second, did she just say that? I’m wiping the sleep from my eyes, completely shocked.

You get to work side-by-side with one of the best, right?

Just to be around Anita is amazing. She’s just so talented, so smart. The opportunities of how much I can learn from her are endless.

Did you take to having authority?

I felt this was something I love to do. I didn’t really realize how much I liked management. I like control. I love numbers. It is just fun for me to go home and work on scheduling. I am Anita’s eyes and ears in the show, too, and that is a huge responsibility.

Being a dancer is like being an athlete, in that one day you have to leave the field. What is your plan when you finally stop performing?

Right now I just want to dance as long as possible. I remember when I was this little 18-year-old who was in “Show In the Sky,” saying to a friend in the dressing room, “If I’m a 30-year-old showgirl, shoot me.” (Laughs.) Now I’m like, “If I can be a 40-year-old showgirl, I’m the luckiest girl in the world.” And when someone taps me on the shoulder and says that’s enough, I will be ready to focus on all the other opportunities in front of me. If you train hard, work hard, keep your head down, the universe will fall into place for you.

Read the full interview on Las Vegas Review Journal’s website here.

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Coming to Vegas from the land down under, Melissa is a vision from Australia. She loves all things dance, theatre and art. Her favorite activities include traveling, learning aerial dance, reading, hiking, and catching up with friends. Melissa enjoys snacking on vegan treats and visiting Tacotarian.

After a night of performing on the Fantasy stage, she likes to cuddle up on the couch with her family and a glass of wine while watching "The Bachelor". Thanks to her musical theatre background, she has traveled the world.


Abby is our bombshell from Buffalo, New York. She loves working out, dancing, cooking, writing and astrology. When she’s out on the town in Vegas, she enjoys going to Catch at the Aria and XS Nightclub. Abby loves Mediterranean food, margaritas, and coffee.

Her favorite activity after a show is going home to cuddle with her cat, Lemon. She is interested in the arts and is a certified personal trainer which has led her to pursuing a degree in nursing. Abby is no stranger to keeping things interesting – she once got engaged to a stranger on TV!


Skyla is a Las Vegas native, raised into a family of performers, and is a star in her own right as a fourth-generation dancer and third-generation Las Vegas showgirl. She has a love for the arts, astrology, health and wellness and travel.

When she isn’t performing, you can find her at her favorite coffee spot, Gabi Coffee or her favorite Vegas hangout, Born and Raised Bar with their great cocktails and late night eats. After a show, Skyla loves to unwind by going home to cuddle with her puppy, Charlie, while they enjoy a movie or show on Netflix together.


From Burnsville, Minnesota, Ashton, our star from the north, loves being one with nature, watching the Food Network, and traveling.

When she isn’t lighting up the stage, she enjoys spending her time outdoors by Lake Mead or at Mt. Charleston. After a show, Ashton loves to sit outside and play fetch with her puppies. From being a certified scuba diver to volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia to visiting Thailand, our gorgeous traveler has seen it all.



Hailing from the Bay Area, the beautiful Soolin really lights up the Fantasy stage! This west coast dancer was named after a character in a 70’s British science fiction TV show, so being on stage was her destiny.

She loves spending time at home or taking her dog, Chip to the dog park. Soolin loves yoga, dancing, shopping, baking, watching movies, and going out to eat. Some of her favorites include sushi, P.F. Chang’s, and Starbucks.



Our French beauty, Gigi, loves art, architecture, psychology and history. After a long night of performing, she likes to unwind by having a glass of wine with friends.

During Gigi’s free time, she enjoys traveling, yoga, gardening and cooking. Her favorite Vegas hotspot is Park on Fremont. Gigi loves vegan food and is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNLV.


Our Puerto Rican queen, Indira, loves all things health and fitness! She enjoys cooking, dancing, traveling and cuddling with her fur baby. Her favorite Vegas hangouts are Marquee or Tacotarian for brunch.

When she isn’t working up a sweat on stage or in the gym, she loves relaxing at home watching Netflix or enjoying a day at the beach and watching the sunset.


From New York to Vegas, Joli sure knows how to be a showstopper! Her interests include dancing, acting, aerial work, hiking, yoga, and swimming. She loves to eat vegan pizza and enjoys hanging out at Park on Fremont.

When she’s not lighting up the stage, Joli loves to unwind on the couch with her French bulldog or catch live music around town with her friends. A lot of people don’t know this, but Joli is also an acrobat and loves to combine aerial work with contemporary and jazz movements.


Lorena, our stunning vocalist, came from San Francisco, California to take over the Las Vegas Strip! When she’s not headlining for Fantasy, you can find her traveling, vintage shopping, off-roading in her jeep or doing charity work. Her favorite Vegas hangout is Mt. Charleston.

Lorena loves to unwind after a night of performing by meditating in her backyard and stargazing with her husband and their fur babies. After being a full-time housekeeper for years, she was discovered for her voice while on a cruise. From housekeeper to headliner, Lorena has never looked back!



Mariah is a knockout from Grand Junction, Colorado who came to take the Vegas Strip by storm! A farm girl at heart and a lover of all things sports, she loves watching the Broncos play in the NFL, golfing, playing basketball, and spending time with her puppies. Some of her favorite cheat day meals include tacos, pizza, and beer.

After a show, Mariah loves chatting with the girls in the dressing room before heading home. From dancer to co-producer, this Colorado girl can do it all!



All the way from Valparaiso, Indiana, Rachael, this brunette dynamo, loves to dance, choreograph, travel, and spend time with her family and friends. Her favorite places to visit are New York and Paris, where she can shop until she drops and eat amazing food.

After a long night of performing, you can find her relaxing with a glass of wine, good food, and watching Netflix before heading to bed.


Bellissima is what comes to mind when we think of Irene! Joining Fantasy from Milan, she loves dancing, meditating, reading, concerts and being at the gym. When not dazzling the audience, Irene can be found at a salsa night somewhere in Vegas. A world traveler, she also speaks three languages and makes an amazing risotto, but her favorite dish is her grandma’s lasagna with a glass of wine.

After performing on the Atrium Showroom stage, Irene likes to keep the night going with more dancing or heading straight home for a relaxing bath. Her funniest moment as a dancer? She once broke a shoe and had to finish the routine with only one heel.



Shining on the Fantasy stage from Silver Lake, Kansas, is the one and only Rivers. In her free time, Rivers enjoys visiting thrift stores, working out at the gym, attending dance classes at Millennium, and watching paranormal investigations and makeup tutorials. Some of her favorite Vegas hangouts are the Absinthe Spiegel tent or Good Morning Kitchen.

After a show, she enjoys cooking and writing in her journal. Passionate about using her talents to bring awareness to social causes, Rivers has performed and given a speech in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. at Curefest to help fight childhood cancer.


There’s no place like home for our Midwestern princess Stevie like Winfield, Kansas! She is constantly thinking about cats and saving the planet. When Stevie’s not taking the stage by storm, she’s out hiking, scuba diving, going to the gym, or developing her skills on the stage. Some of her favorite food and drink choices are chocolate, fish tacos, and kombucha.

After a show, she loves to unwind for the night with a glass of wine while she reads by the fireplace and cuddles with her cat. Thanks to her power moves, Stevie has been able to live, work, and visit over 30 countries before the age of 25!


Hailing from Havana, Cuba, Yesi is our firecracker with a passion for dance. Currently the dance captain for Fantasy, Yesi is not only a standout performer, but also works with the cast to teach and perfect routines. She also likes cook, listen to podcasts, and create art.

When she’s not performing, you can find her in the gym working out or sipping on a Pina Colada at her favorite Vegas spot, Town Square. Yesi enjoys chatting with her girls in the dressing room after a show and hanging out at The Luxor for a night out. Her favorite cuisines are Japanese and Cuban, and she loves Havana Club rum. One day, Yesi hopes to own a beach house in Varadero Beach, Cuba.

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From the “Show Me State,” Ryn was born to be on the Las Vegas stage! Not only a world traveler having studied ballet in Armsterdam, she is also a published poet and enjoys learning about astrology and the spiritual arts, history, psychology, cats and Japanese and Korean media.

When not on the Fantasy stage, she loves writing, acting, learning new languages and discovering (and dancing) to new music. Her favorites hangouts in Vegas include Shanghai Plaza and The Golden Tiki, as well as finding great Asian foods and margaritas. After a show, she likes to wind down with a hot bath before curling up in bed with her dog, Poppy, to watch anime.



There must be something about that fresh mountain air in Colorado, as Madison is our second Rocky Mountain beauty to currently be in Fantasy. Madison loves being outdoors, spending her free time golfing, skiing, and walking her basset hound, Daisy, as well as learning about entrepreneurship, innovation, and home organization. Her favorite place to hangout is Big T’s Cantina to rock out on karaoke night.

After a performance, Madis on prefers to head home for dinner and a relaxing shower before going to bed.


Originally from Cleveland before graduating from college at sea, Jordan is ready to make a splash on the Fantasy stage! This globe-trotting beauty use her off-time to work out, dance and spend time with family and friends. Having traveled far and wide, her favorite city she visited was Dubai.

Jordan likes wind down after performing with a hot shower followed by a movie to fall asleep to. Her favorite spot in Vegas is the Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar at Town Square, while her favorite foods include popcorn, pierogies, French onion soup, Dunkin’ iced coffee and wine.


Originally from Cleveland before graduating from college at sea, Jordan is ready to make a splash on the Fantasy stage! This globe-trotting beauty use her off-time to work out, dance and spend time with family and friends. Having traveled far and wide, her favorite city she visited was Dubai.

Jordan likes wind down after performing with a hot shower followed by a movie to fall asleep to. Her favorite spot in Vegas is the Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar at Town Square, while her favorite foods include popcorn, pierogies, French onion soup, Dunkin’ iced coffee and wine.

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