The Eldorado holiday show "The Spirit of Christmas," which opened last week in Reno, is very much the kind of show that casinos book for the Yule. This one is as beautifully staged, precision danced and rich in holiday music as any in the past. The lead performers Mandy Kerridge, David Wyatt and Julia Mansfield are joined by the TV name Merrill Osmond. All live up to expectations. Osmond comes out between production numbers to offer appropriate songs in a debonair, easy-going style.
Wyatt sings "O Holy Night" as a solo, and he does it well, but it is jarringly out of place with the rest of the pop-oriented tunes.
Best of all is the very talented and perfectly drilled chorus line, which high step with apparent glee and a maximum of athleticism. Anyone who thinks such dancing isn't demanding should try some of these routines. There are even three ballet dancers who pirouette with all the grace of a corps de ballet.
"The Spirit of Christmas" has been touring the globe for three years. There are eight versions on the road, including shows in London, Germany and Atlantic City, N.J., so they've got to be doing something right.
The show is modeled somewhat on the Radio City Music Hall variety shows in New York, but on a smaller scale.
The "Spirit of Christmas" cast will spread the holiday cheer during a seven-week run from Nov. 13-Dec. 28.
Tickets are available from $28.95 for adults, from $23.95 for children and seniors (60-plus) and from $33.95 for VIP seating. Dinner and show packages are available from $36.95; room and show packages available from $69 per person. Call (800) 648-5966 or 786-5700 in Nevada or see eldoradoreno.com.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE BEOWULF
We didn't get the review of the 3D movie "Beowulf" when it opened last week, but we paid for our sins by seeing it at the Galaxy this week. Don't know if it's a live action film, animation or something in between, since it was crated entirely by computer with actors wearing some kind of suit and being tracked electronically. No cameras involved.
But never fear; this isn't the high school "Beowulf" that is remembered with loathing by most. (If you liked "300" you'll delight in "Beowulf.") In a capsule, Beowulf comes to Denmark to rescue the kingdom of Anthony Hopkins, which is being threatened by the bloody, raging, pus-covered monster Grendel. Beowulf (Briton Ray Winstone) takes on the monster in the nude, with carefully placed objects and things covering his crotch.
The rest of the cast, John Malkovich, Robin Wright Penn, Brendan Gleeson and especially Angelina Jolie as Grendel's seductive, magical mother, is humanoid at least, particularly Jolie in the sort of nude with braided hair long enough to hang someone with.
The plot is basically blood and monsters in powerful 3D (you may dodge when the rat comes out of the screen at you), little deep thinking here. Literature it ain't, but there's enough action, nudity (PG-13 rated so it's not so nude), beautiful women, firm male pecs and incredible monsters to keep the hands digging for the popcorn. Yes, the whole thing is absurd, but who says movies have to make sense or mean something. Not us.
Weekends we sum up what's going in the local and elsewhere entertainment world under the rubric of "Sam's Best Bets" at the Appeal site nevadaappeal.com Friday and Saturday. Next week we'll also be adding the latest on movie stars and music reviews. We'll also be adding video game news and reviews that we can't squeeze into the daily paper. Plus anything else we think readers might enjoy knowing about.
• Contact Sam Bauman at 881-1236 or Sbauman@nevadaappeal.com.