‘I’d like to do some songs for you tonight. Is that okay?’ asks the Whitney Houston hologram
Whitney Houston is performing again. Yep, you read that right. Few places, if any, exist on this earth where one can attend a performance by an icon, (pause for dramatic effect), who has been dead for almost a decade. Fortunately, for us folks here in Las Vegas, we can. And the icon in question is Whitney Houston.
“An Evening With Whitney” is the latest “residency” to open on the Las Vegas Strip. The show features a hologram of Whitney Houston, and the late singer performs nightly for crowds from the Harrah’s showroom.
“If you love Whitney Houston for her music, this is the place to be,” says Pat Houston, Whitney’s manager and sister-in-law said on opening night. Off the Strip (OTS) was there and here are the biggest takeaways from the one-of-a- kind show.
The Mesmerizing Performance
“An Evening With Whitney” is a full on show. The “I Will Always Love You” singer is accompanied by a live band with four members and four dancers to help kick up the energy. The additions of both do not overpower Whitney, though it would be easy to see the temptation to do it.
During the opening night performance, Whitney delivers her high energy songs with such glamour and energetic choreography that many in the crowd got up and danced unprompted. Though, to be fair, there is some prompting later in the show when the dancers enter the crowd.
But, Whitney is known more for her ability to belt out a ballad, as if her voice was a message straight from the heavens above. The show absolutely delivers that, too. The hologram songstress commands the audience with “I Will Always Love You,” and “Greatest Love of All,” using only her vocals.
A Celebration of Whitney Houston Live
The one-hour-and-fifteen minute show comes complete with wardrobe changes and some chatting from the superstar. “I’d like to do some songs for you tonight. Is that okay?” Yes, she speaks, though for obvious reasons not a lot.
Whitney goes from elegant evening gowns to ripped jeans and a brown leather jacket in the production. There is even a point where Whitney is holding a handkerchief presumably to wipe away the sweat from her face, but she never does.
Though the hologram doesn’t stray far from center stage. Whitney only takes a few steps off a podium and will acknowledge the audience, but her moves are down to perfection. Her trademark shoulder shake and head tilt accentuating a beat is eerily on point. Her hands tap her hips as if she is dancing along, just as she did in her live performances.
For A Hologram, It’s Eerily Spot On
The show is a technical marvel. Movements, singing and chatting aside, the fact that musicians can be experienced long after they are gone is nothing short of amazing. The production managed to not only capture Whitney’s mannerisms, but also find a way to make it rain on her. She really appears to be wet.
This is not to say that this is done so perfectly that you forget it’s a hologram. You are very aware of that fact, especially with respect to her size and limited movement across the stage. However, it’s an achievement of monumental proportions that audiences are still able to attend a concert by a musician long after they have passed away, especially one as timeless as Whitney Houston.
Showroom Size Matters
The showroom at Harrah’s seats almost 550 people and that’s just fine for this show. The smaller size makes for a more intimate and cozy feel. Consider that Whitney sold out arenas while she was alive.
Those who were lucky enough to see a live performance before she passed away likely saw her from a distance measuring close to the walk from Harrah’s to the Flamingo. With the show at Harrah’s, this is not the case. While you aren’t ever in a position close enough to see her sweat, you are cozy enough to make out the color of her shoes.
Past And Future Collide: This Opens Up Opportunities
Since this is one of the first of its kind, there certainly is reason for some skepticism. Putting aside the questions many have of the ethics and finances of it all, there is a great deal of opportunity for shows of this nature.
“An Evening With Whitney” offers up a reverence to the late singer while offering a glimpse into the future. But Whitney’s hologram show isn’t technically the first of its kind.
Tupac has appeared at Coachella and Base Hologram, the company behind Whitney’s hologram. Base Hologram has other late musicians (Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly) performing on tour around the country. Whitney’s show already toured in the UK before COVID put it to a stop. If the Vegas show goes well, there are plans to take hologram Whitney back out on the road in 2023.
Bonus: It’s What Whitney Wanted
Whitney 2010’s “Nothing But Love” tour featured an unplugged section that she reportedly loved. Pat Houston recalls speaking with Whitney about that tour.
In that intimate setting she told Pat, “The next thing that I want to do in North America is an evening with Whitney. No stadiums or anything like that, just theater style.” Pat goes on to say “it means a great deal to the family to be doing something that she would have done if she were here.”
WHAT: An Evening With Whitney
WHERE: Harrah’s Showroom at Harrah’s Las Vegas
WHEN: Tuesday to Sunday (Dark Mondays) 6:00 p.m.
TICKETS: Start at $47 each. More info can be found at whitneyvegas.com