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Bite celebrates fictional Count and 1,500 performances at Stratosphere

An 1897 novel by the Irish author Bram Stoker serves as the basis for “Bite” at the Stratosphere. The fast moving, sexy stage production with rock ‘n roll compositions recounts the age-old search for an ideal mate and has been blessed with 1,500 performances, nearly half a million paying customers and, on the occasion of its five year anniversary, sunny champagne toasts.

Even though Stoker’s novel about a Transylvanian count with the peculiar name of Dracula was penned over a century ago, interest in vampirism has not waned as evidenced by shows like Twilight and True Blood. And Bite.

Yet despite some common themes, previous iterations of the Dracula story simply can’t be compared to the Stratosphere production in Las Vegas. Bite breathes new life into the vampire myth thanks to a combination of highly evolved, chorography and artistic elements including the presence of sultry dancers, who appear in topless fashion in a good many of the scenes.

According to Tim Molyneux, producer and writer of Bite, 13 topless shows came and went during the five years since his nicely-bosomed, athletically shaped and toned female performers have been scampering over the Stratosphere stage with a unique combination of dance, gymnastics, aerobatics and contortionism.

“These girls are not afraid to show you their assets,” notes Molyneux referring to the Erotic Angels of Rock. Molyneux gives his Erotic Angels and the male cast members virtually all the credit when it comes to attributing success for the show.

But he also acknowledges the allure of vampires so central to his production: the Lord Vampire in Bite searches for and finds the perfect female specimen to crown his Queen of the Night. Yet in contrast to anything Stoker may have imagined, this Lord Vampire is a toned and nicely cut athlete with six-pack abs who performs acts of levitation and makes his first appearance on stage stepping from a dark coffin as the hypnotic hoo-hoo of the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” sears through the house sound system. Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name.

And therein lies another difference. The soundtrack. Forget heavy symphony orchestrations. Bite incorporates the driving, high-energy rhythms and Les-Paul-based electrifications of American classic rock of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, and these rock ‘n roll classics help underscore the central theme and on-stage interactions.

For example, when the Erotic Angels of Rock first take the stage, one hears the frenzied cadence of “Welcome to the Jungle” and the associated high-pitched screams of Axel Rose. Hall & Oates testify to the “Maneater” as the Angels immodestly shimmy across the stage. Van Morrison’s “Moondance” is performed under black light and its effects are exceptionally alluring. Dozens of other recorded selections such as Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” accentuate the mood as do several other classic rock selections sung live on stage. There’s also a snippet of Italian opera.

There are also plenty of good visuals to keep audience interest high. The execution of aerobatic maneuvers akin to circus trapeze work using twin silk straps (they look like dangling bed sheets) suspended from the ceiling is both an artistic and highly-athletic feat. In another scene, six of the Angels crawl out from the inside of a baby grand piano: it’s a contortionist thing. An onstage martial arts battle ensues with nunchucks. Audience volunteers are hand-picked by the Angels for suggestive interplay.

Bite is an erotic, rock ‘n roll burlesque revue that masterfully updates the story originally conceived by Bram Stoker. And it appears to be headed for the sort of longevity that Stoker’s novel has experienced even if the development time was remarkably short.

“From the time that we signed a contract to the time that we opened our doors it took 30 days: from a piece of paper concept to opening night,” notes Molyneux, who was on hand to lift his glass and offer comments to a full house just before show-start.

Congratulations to Tim Molyneux and his 12 cast members for reaching an important milestone.

By Jay Barber, Catalina Media Group

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