LAS VEGAS — Britney Spears has begun her early retirement in Las Vegas with a show that looks strikingly like the eye-popping Cirque du Soleil productions found elsewhere on the Strip.
The debut of Spears' long-term casino gig Friday kept an audience of about 4,500 on their feet for about 90 minutes.
The young-for-Vegas crowd was there for the danceable hits and the spectacle, which included acrobatics, a ring of fire, confetti, a live band, frenetic costume changes and a frequently airborne Spears.
The show's production values are unusually high for a casino residency, calling to mind the golden age of music videos. Its high-concept set pieces featured a cadre of backup dancers who danced in human-sized hamster wheels and somersaulted over the Grammy-winning star.
Spears, 32, has signed on to perform 50 shows each in 2014 and 2015 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
She cuts a different figure from the typical Strip headliner. Other successful Las Vegas acts— including Shania Twain, Elton John and Celine Dion— have generally attracted an older audience. Judging from Friday's show, her fans are more likely to be found at a casino mega-club than in front of a slot machine.
Still, "Piece of Me" is not immune to nostalgia, one of the prime currencies in Las Vegas entertainment. It includes several callbacks to the 1990s and early 2000s, including plaid shirts tied around dancers' waists and a recap of the skin-tight sparkling bodysuit Spears wore in the "Toxic" music video.
Spears' younger self haunted the show, with clips of her early performances playing on huge monitors. Notably absent from those monitors, to the displeasure of some fans in the cheap seats, were any live close-ups of what was unfolding onstage.