es coming back for more while racking up significant awards such as Las Vegas Magazine’s Hall of Fame and Las Vegas Weekly’s special all-time Best of Vegas awards in 2020.
But that growing list of accomplishments doesn’t stop the cast and crew of “Fantasy,” anchored by producer Anita Mann, from continuing to seek higher ground by evolving this classic category of Vegas entertainment. The show recently extended its partnership with Luxor through a new multi-year agreement, a deal that will keep it onstage at the Atrium Showroom at least long enough to celebrate 25 years.
The cast of “Fantasy” celebrates 23 years with producer Anita Mann in 2022.
“We want to stay as long as they want us to stay,” said Mann, an Emmy Award-winning choreographer who has worked on countless TV productions in addition to her stage work. “We have a healthy relationship and I think we both trust each other. I’d like to stay another 10 years. But really, we take it one year at a time.”
This extension is particularly meaningful for this show, which was one of the first at any MGM Resorts property to return to live performances after the COVID pandemic shut down casinos and theaters across the city. “Fantasy” moved into the larger Luxor Theater temporarily to accommodate social distancing and other health mandates before it was safe to return to the Atrium Showroom, a venue shared with another long-running Luxor show, Carrot Top’s comedy production.
“I don’t think we had the feeling of normalcy while in that [temporary] venue, even though the show looked good,” Mann said. “When we moved back into our showroom around July 4 [in 2021], the dancers were still wearing masks and the audience was as well. Now I do feel we’re back to full-blown normalcy, since we’re able to do meet-and-greets after the show, and have people onstage.”
There are several very successful burlesque-style shows running on the Strip but the “Fantasy” team believes its gorgeous and talented cast sets it apart, as well as its remarkable consistency through the years. And now that Luxor is fully stocked with live entertainment options — Blue Man Group and “America’s Got Talent presents Superstars Live” in addition to Carrot Top — the sexy revue that takes the stage seven times every week is helping infuse fresh energy at the south Strip resort with music, comedy and more.
“I’ve worked for 15 years in ‘Fantasy’ and we used to have nightclubs and different things at the casino, but we’ve evolved through that,” said dancer and co-producer Mariah Rivera. “Now Luxor’s biggest draw is just entertainment and it’s just really cool to be in a casino where that’s the main focus.”
Rivera was promoted from associate producer to co-producer last year, and she continues to perform in the show. She’s not the only cast member whose role has evolved; dancers Ashton Bray and Yesi Burgess, both longtime performers in “Fantasy,” have recently moved up to production manager and associate choreographer, respectively.
“It’s a testament to Anita and her wisdom in knowing the potential in dancers and giving opportunities to grow,” Rivera said. “Some shows, you’re hired as a dancer and that’s all they ever see you as. Anita comes from a dance background herself and she knows what it’s like, and that’s why I love working for her. She wants to share her knowledge of the business and wants to raise women up.”
Combine that spirit of collaboration and creativity with the powerhouse vocals and charisma of headlining singer Lorena Peril, who’s been with “Fantasy” for about 10 years, and rotating comedians Murray Sawchuck and Shayma Tash, and you have a revue with a whole lot of variety. Still, no one is resting on laurels.
“I still see the show all the time and I’m still giving notes every time,” said Mann. “We want to be a classic production show that features the concept of beautiful girls, beautiful dancers, that classic kind of Vegas-style entertainment, but we want to keep the show moving forward. We like to keep it fresh and young but also make sure … we have a wide range of ages at our show, and couples and singles, and bachelor and bachelorette parties.”
She said she’s already deep into working on a special 25th anniversary production, but the cast won’t start rehearsing it until the end of this year, at the earliest. “We certainly think we’re working on something exciting,” she said. “But my goal every day is to keep the brand alive, challenge ourselves and create a show that continues to be beautiful, sexy, and entertaining for a modern audience.”