Women on the Las Vegas stage: ‘Le Rêve’s’ Colby Lemmo

“The character who I portray in the show is not who I am in real life,” says Colby Lemmo.

She doesn’t just mean that she’s acting when she plays the Dreamer in “Le Rêve – The Dream.”

“Le Rêve” opens with a proposal, and the entire production is devoted to exploring the Dreamer’s imagination as she struggles to decide what she wants in love and in life.

“This character is all about innocence and finding her way and finding the things that she wants in life,” Colby says.

But when I ask her about her vision for the future, she says, “I’m not a big planner.”

“I don’t look at things in the long run,” she says. “I’m very happy today, and I couldn’t imagine anything more or anything less in my life than I have right now.”

Colby’s mother put her in dance lessons when her daughter was 3 or 4 years old. Colby says she doesn’t think her mom planned on seeing her devote her life to dance — but she was right about one important thing.

“She wanted me to find a focus and a discipline,” Colby said. And that’s exactly what she found.

In high school, Colby didn’t participate in any extracurricular activities at school. She spent six or seven hours a week at the dance studio, working.

She competed as a dancer and graduated early to launch a professional career that brought her to Las Vegas, where she performed in burlesque shows before landing the heroine role in “Le Rêve.”

Colby does not have a family, and though she respects what she calls the “beautiful life” some of her colleagues enjoy raising children around the performing arts, she has no plans yet to make a change.

She enjoys great support from her biological family living on the East Coast and from the family of friends and artists she says she has created for herself in Las Vegas.

That support has allowed her to take on new challenges in “Le Rêve” that have bolstered the characteristic strength of self, making her into a visibly dynamic performer.

Colby had had acro classes, where she learned basic floor tricks, but she says, “I’m not by any means an acrobat or a gymnast.”

She says the when she became the Dreamer two-and-a-half years ago, she was intimidated.

“I questioned myself like, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m really here. Am I sure this is the right place for me?'” she said.

The cast includes troupes of acrobats and synchronized swimmers in addition to dancers.

“You walk around and you see these women who are in such great shape, and you’re now in a show working side-by-side with them,” Colby said.

With the help of the show’s training staff, she has gone from being a dancer to “being considered an athlete.”

Colby passed her first strength and swimming tests, but she still had things to learn before she began performing as the Dreamer. In addition to staying fit, she had to master strength skills that would allow her to fly around the Wynn Theater on rigs and swim through the enormous pool that serves as its stage.

“It was a challenge for myself that pushed me as a human being, as a person, as an individual to become on the same level as the people I was working around,” she says.

Colby is tested every six months against a baseline — the minimum strength and swimming requirements for any person playing her role as a dancer or as a Dreamer.

She does pull-ups, push-ups, dip holds and burpees, hangs by her hands, completes a rope climb and performs balance exercises that she says with a laugh are “incredibly hard.”

“If you miss out on one thing, they can take you out of the show for however long it takes you to train,” she says.

She also must make five full laps in the Le Rêve pool, swim for 60 feet underwater without taking a breath and tread water for 10 minutes straight.

She doesn’t actually do any of those things in the show, but she explains that the tests, which are different for people playing different roles, ensure that each performer could handle anything that might come up in the show unexpectedly.

“People joke that the only way that you would actually tread water for 10 minutes would be if the entire theater were on fire and the only thing not on fire was the pool,” Colby says. But she goes on to describe alternate plans for one of her exits that would involve her swimming out one of the pool’s underwater exits rather than being taken up through the ceiling exit by the Dark Prince character, on a fly rig.

Colby had flown before she came to “Le Rêve,” but never at the heights she sees in this show. (Fly height reaches an incredible 100 feet.)

Besides the scene where she is lifted off a giant tree and carried away by the Dark Prince, Colby does two other major flying acts — in the “Water Thieves” segment, when she is raised in the air sitting atop a water jug, and the finale, when she and her True Love (the male dance lead) ride aboard a flying bed toward their a new dream world.

In each flying act, Colby slips her hand through a loop and locks the loop in place. She doesn’t have to swing or spin in the air, but the acts do require strength and skill.

“You have to have a certain strength to hold your shoulder into the right position … if you don’t have the strength to hold your own weight in the air,” Colby says. But she is not scared of flying.

“I love it,” she says. “I never think twice about it.”

Though the Dreamer may not be sure which choice to make, Colby’s spirit of independence and adventurousness shows through in her performance. Her role may be unique among Las Vegas productions: she is often the only woman performing among a cast of men.

“You might be the only female presence on stage in a world full of men,” she says. “That happens a lot during the show.”

The male characters in “Le Rêve” all have shaved heads — a strong contrast to Colby’s long, brunette hair

“You can’t look anywhere else but see this massive amount of beautiful, in-shape men,” Colby says.

Still, the Dreamer finds that she is the master of her world of imagination and that whatever she envisions she can live. The journey she takes in her dreams does not end when she wakes — she ultimately chooses the reality she wants.

Maybe Colby is not unlike her character after all.