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Loney's Show Notes
By Glenn Loney, June 21, 2007
About Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.
Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:
MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS, LOUIE! *
American Theatre Critics View Vegas Strip & Shows: *
Major Shows: *
Mel Brooks’ THE PRODUCERS [*****] *
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA [*****] *
Monty Python’s SPAMALOT [****] *
Franco Dragone’s LE RÊVE [*****] *
Cirque du Soleil’s Franco Dragone O [*****] *
Cirque du Soleil’s Robert Lepage KA [*****] *
Cirque du Soleil’s Franco Dragone MYSTÈRE [*****] *
Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE [***] *
Donn Arden’s 25th Year JUBILEE! [*****] *
Clint Holmes’ JAM/JUST ANOTHER MAN [****] *
NEW WORK WORK-SHOPPED BY SUNDANCE! *
SHOWS [REGRETABLY] NOT SEEN: *
MAJOR & MINOR VEGAS SITES & SIGHTS: *
MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS, LOUIE!
American Theatre Critics View Vegas Strip & Shows:
Welcome to Las Vegas sign.
Every year, the American Theatre Critics Association—ATCA—meets in a different American city noted for its Performing-Arts Culture. Congregating in Metropolises such as Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, & even New York.
This Year of Our Lord, 2007, the Metropolis chosen was Las Vegas. To those who still think Vegas is just a Neon-Strip with some Gambling-Parlors way out in the Southern Sands of Nevada, its Population is now almost a Million-&-a-Half Americans, with six-thousand people arriving to live & work each month!
Las Vegas is also continuing to build Humungous-Hotel-Spa-Casino-Theatre-Complexes. Most of those already open feature one or two Major Stage-Presentations, as well as Cabarets & Solo-Performers. Wayne Newton is a Senior-Citizen, as was the Late Lee Liberace—whose gaudy Museum features his Rhinestone-Encrusted Autos.
Thus, dedicated Theatre-Critics from all over the United States—including Alaska!—were able to see two shows per night, back-to-back, from 7 pm to Midnight!
They were also able to discuss such Pressing-Problems as reduction in Review-Space—or its entire Disappearance—in Print-Outlets, as well as What To Do about Websites & Blogging.
Professional-Issues involving Ethics also were considered: If you are the Drama-Critic in Anywhere-town, USA, is it Kosher to review your "Significant-Other" favorably? Or, if you say something unflattering—en passant—about Duck-Hunting with Dick, will your name turn up on the No-Fly List?
ACTA members were also able to tour Backstage at a number of Major Vegas Shows, to be astonished at the Technical Wonders, to meet the men & women who make the Machines, Lights, & Sound function so splendidly, & to chat with talented & attractive Casts & ingenious Directors.
None of this would have been possible without the Las Vegas Contacts of its resident Drama-Critic, Anthony Del Valle, working with ACTA’s Planning-Genius, Michael Grossberg, the Theatre-Voice of Columbus, Ohio.
There were even special Panels of Experts to explain how all these Fabulous Productions have come to Life in Las Vegas. Franco Dragone—creator of Le Reve & O—was one of the most interesting. He also discussed his plans for a Spectacular Carmen on Broadway!
[Perhaps no one told him of the recent multi-million-dollar Disaster of Baz Luhrmann’s Bohème on Broadway? Of course, Carmen has already been on Broadway, but years ago, as in Carmen Jones. Then there was Peter Brook’s vision-version of La Tragèdie de Carmen, farther up on Broadway at Lincoln Center! What is it about this singing Gypsy-girl from Seville’s Cigar-Factory?]
One of the shows was not on the Vegas Strip, but rather on the campus of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where ATCA was hosted by the Nevada Conservatory Theatre & UNLV Theatre. This was Clint Holmes’ Bio-Musical, JAM, or Just Another Man.
This Outing had special poignancy for Your Roving Reporter, as he taught for a semester at UNLV’s first incarnation, Nevada Southern University, in the Spring of 1956!
The classes were taught in offices of the Vegas High-School Auditorium—which seated some 2,000, usually only for Commencement. The students were largely LDS, working in the Gaming Industry: Mormons do not drink, on the job or off!
The school had a Rebel-Yell, with the Stars & Bars as its Official-Flag. Originally, Vegas had been populated by former soldiers of the Defeated Confederacy.
I taught English Comp & Public-Speaking, with some Theatre & Drama thrown-in for Good Measure. It was suggested that I stage an Ibsen drama on the huge stage of the high-school auditorium.
At that time, you could see Frank Sinatra—even Elvis—for the price of a drink. The shows were a Come-On for the One-Armed Bandits, Poker-Games, Roulette-Wheels, & Blackjack-Tables
How could Hedda Gabler compete with all that? Especially if acted by a 17-year-old Mormon girl and staged by Your Scribe?
Our Exec Director told me a Great University was to be constructed out in the sandy wastes. And that there would be two theatres for the Drama Department, with the post of Chairman ear-marked for me, if I would stay-on.
The Idea of trying to teach & create Serious Theatre in such a place seemed Unreal. So I went off to Europe, North-Africa, & the Middle-East to teach for four years for the University of Maryland Overseas. And never looked back…
Mel Brooks’ THE PRODUCERS [*****]
[At the Paris in the Producers Theatre]
If you missed The Producers on Broadway—where it recently gave-up-the-ghost after a long, long run—you can still catch it in Vegas. But in an edited 90-minute version…
Actually, this is not a major loss. In fact, the cutting makes this a more effective show!
You will miss that scene in which Max & Leo arrive at their shabby Broadway-office to discover that their glamorous secretary/showgirl Ulla has painted it All White!
This change avoids building & decorating a complete copy of the original set, creating Big
Savings in Time, Money, & Backstage-Storage-Space!
When Your Roving Reporter first saw The Producers when it opened on Broadway, he loved it so much that he nominated it for various awards as Best Musical—which it won. He always hoped the producers of The Producers would invite him back to savor this wonderful show again.
But they did Not, even when new stars replaced Nathan Lane & Matthew Broderick…
So I waited for the Movie-Musical-Version of The Producers, created by the brilliant Susan Stroman, the original Director/Choreographer.
Unfortunately, it did not work. At least not with the same brilliance shown on Broadway…
But in Vegas at the Paris, Susan Stroman has achieved Broadway Brilliance again!
Brad Oscar & Larry Raben are admirable as Max & Leo: Raben is even better than Broderick!
Leigh Zimmerman is a truly glamorous Ulla, with Lee Roy Reems & Rich Affannato well-matched as Roger DeBris & Carmen Ghia. Only Bill Nolte disappoints as the author of the Worst-Musical-Ever: Springtime for Hitler.
A Great Show: well-worth a trip to Vegas & a visit to the Paris Hotel-Casino-Spa-Pool-Theatre-Boutique-Valet-Parking-Complex.
Las Vegas Strip New Years eve. 12/31/05.
It is a Disneyland-Paris, although not a Disney-Product. It comes complete with Eiffel-Tower, Paris Opéra, The Louvre, the Hot-Air-Balloon of the Bros. Montgolfier, & the Arc de Triomphe—with the face of the Emperor Napoleon looking very like that of America’s Mayor, Sir Rudy Giuliani!
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA [*****]
[At the Venetian in the Phantom Theatre]
The fact that Phantom of the Opera is now the longest-running Broadway Musical—not to mention the longevity of the original West-End London production & those in Los Angeles & On the Road—suggests that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatre Company believes this haunting show has remarkable Staying Powers.
Why else construct a Purpose-Built Phantom Opera-Theatre in Las Vegas—at a cost of more than $40,000,000? Why else would a Phenomenally-Successful Composer personally abridge his own Creation—when most Tune-Smiths would refuse to lose a note of their scores?
As has often been noted, the Attention-Span of most Las Vegas Audiences can be measured in Nano-Seconds, so Musicals on the Vegas Strip generally run no more than 90-minutes, without Intermissions.
Lord Webber understands this Caveat very well—and he has deftly edited the book & score so that nothing important seems missing. All the Big Moments are here—and the book-narrative does not suffer from pruning.
Phantom of the Opera Theater. Photo by Jeffrey Green.
Of course the Biggest Moment in Phantom of the Opera is the crashing-down of the Immense Chandelier upon the audience in the orchestra-seating of Paris’ Opéra Populaire.
In Vegas, this Fatal Special-Effect has been immensely enhanced, for the chandelier is composed of four elements that separately come together at the opening, flying up into the Beaux Arts Dome of the Opéra. At the Crucial Moment, these tons of Candles & Crystals suddenly drop down in Three-Seconds, stopping only a few yards over the heads of those seated in The Golden Circle.
Your Scribe was right under it & was Totally-Surprised! All the Special-Effects of the London & Broadway productions have been preserved & heightened—thanks to the expertise of multi-Award-winning designer David Rockwell. The complex state-of-the-art machinery under the stage is amazing: the American Theatre Critics had the Grand Tour & were properly impressed.
The late Maria Bjornson’s Original Settings—including the Grand Façade of Charles Garnier’s "Wedding-Cake" Paris Opéra—have also been enhanced, now seeming more opulent & richer. Even Bjornson’s costumes have been complemented by new designs by Sue Willmington.
Brent Barrett as The Phantom - Elizabeth Loyacano as Christine. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Hal Prince recreated his London & Broadway staging of Phantom, but this Digest-Version is even more Powerful. That is, if you already admire the Essential Show. If you do not—and are not a Lloyd Webber Fan—then this Vegas-Experience may seem, as a Cynical Colleague commented: "The longest ninety-minutes I’ve ever spent in the theatre!"
Award-winning Gillian Lynne has replicated her original choreography & musical-staging. The Grand Staircase Masquerade scene is especially striking—as always…
My favorite theme in Phantom is the haunting Music of the Night. Lloyd Webber also regards it highly, as permutations of it infuse Angel of Music, All I Ask of You, & Point of No Return.
This kind of Musical-Ingenuity was also used in Evita. Not only is Sir Andrew inspired by great Classical Composers, but he also knows how to make audiences believe they have Heard That Song Before.
Interviewing Lloyd Webber some years ago for Opera News, I noted some of the "borrowings" in Evita, but complemented him on the Two Splendid Melodies in the score. Obviously, Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina was one. "But," he asked me, "what was the other one?"
"Oh, Night of a Thousand Stars, of course!"
Lloyd Webber then explained that it was the same melody as Argentina, only inverted, so the audience would later on think somehow that they’d heard that haunting song before.
When you come to Vegas, Lloyd Webber & Hal Prince’s Phantom is a Must-See!
Brent Barrett & Anthony Crivello alternate as the Phantom, with Kristi Holden & Elizabeth Loyacano sharing the songs of Christine, darkly beloved of the Phantom. Tim Martin Gleason is Raoul, with Elena Jeanne Batman & Geena Jeffries Mattox as Carlotta.
Monty Python’s SPAMALOT [****]
[At the Wynn in the Spamalot Theatre]
Monty Python's SPAMALOT.
When Your Roving-Reporter first saw Spamalot on Broadway, he was amused, but not Overwhelmed. Although this merry show made Mock of the Musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber—as well as those of Stephen Sondheim—it seemed Sophomoric in its Humors.
Sophomoric? Come on, Get a Grip! That’s what the Monty Python Parodies were always all about!
The Initial Problem for this Reviewer was that it didn’t seem as Hilarious as the Monty Python films had been. It was no Life of Bryan, for starters…
But—as I am an Awards-Nominator & Voter—the Producers invited me back for a Second Viewing. I found I liked the show much better in the Second Coming! [That was also true for Mary Poppins, the second time round.]
The Las Vegas Incarnation of this Parodic-Spoof—Monty Python’s Spamalot at Wynn©—was my Third Exposure. It is a Handsome Show & still Amusing, even Hilarious, but I thought some of the Verbal & Visual Gags & Interactive Set-Ups were a bit Thread-Bare by the third-viewing.
What happens in Vegas to Broadway shows is that they usually get Larger, more Opulent, & even more Outrageous. What they do not get is Longer, as 90-minutes is the preferred running-time. Especially if you want to offer two shows back-to-back per evening. The Vegas Python is somewhat longer, however. Starting at 10 pm, it had run its course by midnight.
Actually, this version looks very much like the Broadway show, which already had Vegas-Elements—especially with the Wedding-Chapel Scene.
The Vegas Cast was exemplary: very funny, very energized, very alert. Except when they were supposed to be Clueless…
John O’Hurley was an anti-heroic King Arthur, with the bosomy & beautiful Nikki Crawford as the lovely Lady of the Lake. Other Knights of the Round Table—as well as Supporting Characters—included Justin Brill, Harry Bouvy, J. Anthony Crane, Edward Staudenmayer, Randal Keith, Richard Costa, & Bryan LeFeber.
In the program, one of the most Provocative Parodies in the show is listed as "You Won’t Succeed on Broadway," but its Core-Message is: "You’ve Got To Have Jews!"
Remembering Never Forget when I first saw this Intentionally-Outrageous Musical, I was Uncomfortable with what I feared might be Offensive to Jewish Audiences. Of course—both in Manhattan & Vegas—my Fears Were Groundless.
Franco Dragone’s LE RÊVE [*****]
[At the Wynn© in the Le Rêve Theatre]
Cirque du Solei "Le Reve". Photo by Tomasz Rossa.
As with Cirque du Soleil Spectacles created by Franco Dragone & Robert Lepage, there is no Strong Narrative-Thread in Le Rêve, but there is a kind of Image-Through-Line. It opens with a beautiful young woman, dressed in red, sleeping & dreaming, while reclining on a bed, which is seemingly floating on water.
And then All Hell & Heaven Breaks Loose! Yes, there are Clowns, but there are many more Dazzling-Descents from high, high above the central Water-Theatre elevator-stages.
The Trade-Mark combinations of Synchronous-Swimming, Elaborate-Contortions, Elegant Dance, Precision-Movement, Haunting Song, Remarkable Costumes, Death-Defying High-Dives & High-Acrobatics that distinguish O are also here spectacularly on view.
This Water-Dream is quite wonderful in its Own Way, but—when in Vegas—you might want to see it before you see O, as that Cirque du Soleil Spectacular is even more remarkable & Visually Striking.
If Billy Rose—creator of The Aquacade for the 1939 New York World’s Fair—were alive today & saw this show & O, he’d die all over again! It is so far superior in Creativity, Ingenuity, Style, Expertise, Energy, & Talent to Billy’s Water-Sports, even with Olympic-Champion Eleanor Holm. Also, wherever you are: Esther Williams, eat your heart out!
Cirque du Soleil’s Franco Dragone O [*****]
[At the Bellagio in the Cirque du Soleil’s O Theatre]
What’s in a Name? The title of Franco Dragone’s premier Water-Spectacular—as compared with Le Rêve—is quite simply O…
Cirque du Soleil "O". Photo by Tomasz Rossa.
Perhaps it is O as in the French for Water: EAU. Or anything round with a hole in it, like a Life-Preserver—or a Doughnut!
Several Waterproofed Elevator-Stages rise or zoom variously out of the Watery-Depths in the flooded basement-well, rapidly shedding water to provide non-slip Performance-Surfaces.
Synchronous-Swimmers & Coordinated-Dancers create enchanting moving designs on these Patterned-Planes. High above, Aerialists astonish, while Ripped Athletes dive deep down from even higher perches.
Four Red-Coated Baroque Spanish-Riding-School Horsemen ride rigid Carousel-Stallions elegantly through the air. Other hauntingly-imagined & strangely-costumed Characters spin out a Visual-Narrative-Thread around the fringes of the water-stages.
Clowns cavort on a submersible Houseboat. Shadows of Africa are glimpsed through a translucent-drop. An odd Parade across the upstage Promenade—echoing the arched one downstage front—features a Hearse & Coffin, from which a beautiful girl emerges…
Oh! What can it all Mean?
Or is it only about Images dressing-up the Acrobatics & High-Wire Acts?
After all, none of the Cirque du Soleil shows employs Animals in the acts. No Siegfried Tragedies here…
The Underwater Technology that makes its remarkable Special-Effects possible is amazing, as ATCA members discovered on a backstage tour. As with other Major Vegas Shows, O plays two shows a night, for five nights a week, with an ensemble & crew of more than 150 artists & technicians!
For the Record, the Running-Order of O is Animation, Aurora, Opening-Curtain, Synchronized-Swimming, Duo-Trapèze, Barge, Parade, Clowns, Africa, Bateau, Fire, Russian-Swing, Clowns, Cadre, High-Dive, Trapèze-Washington, Contortion, Aerial-Hoops, & Finale!
Cirque du Soleil’s Robert Lepage KA [*****]
[At the MGM-Grand in the Cirque du Soleil’s Ka Theatre]
Cirque du Solei "KA". Photo by Tomas Muscionico.
Unlike the rather thin Image-Narrative-Thread of Le Rêve & O—which are basically Water-Spectaculars—Ka has a visually Clear-Line of Narrative. It is a Picaresque Journey, enforced on Twin-Princes.
Water plays a very small role in Ka’s visual-effects, as Monster-Machines are the Prime-Movers in this astonishing show.
[Its Conceptual-Creator—Quebec City’s Robert Lepage—has just won the European Theatre Prize for 2007, the Eleventh-Edition, awarded in Thessaloniki, with Your Scribe on hand to report the events in a previous New York Theatre-Wire.com Show-Notes column.]
In essence—at least in terms of the Ornate Costumes & Ingenious Hand-Props—the show seems a Confrontation between Ancient Asia & Savage Africa. The Imperial Court certainly looks Chinese… And the Savages are savage indeed!
But what this show is really all about is Tons of Amazing Stage-Machinery in Constant Action, with two immense stages Rising, Falling, Rotating, Slanting, & even orienting Vertically, to rise up toward the intricate grid-work.
At one point—after the comic Survivors of a Horrendous Shipwreck have been re-united on what seems a Sandy Strand, encountering an amusing Starfish, Galapagos-Turtle, & Centipede—the stage-surface begins to Slant, eventually so steeply that all the sand drains off, cascading into a Fathomless Void below, with all the performers also lost…
When the small—but elegantly-designed—Ship began to rock & roll in the furious storm, I was reminded of several recent productions of Shakespeare’s Tempest I had seen, all of which had managed to suggest a ship-wrecking-storm at sea with fragments of masts & sails, ingenious lighting, intimidating projections, & thunderous sound.
But none of these productions was so visually striking as the shipwreck in Ka.
Could Cirque du Soleil create a production of The Tempest in the style of Ka—or would the Bard’s Poetic-Diction be Overwhelmed by the Visual? This might well be worth a trial, as Ariel would be even more effective if played by a Cirque Flying-Artiste!
And Caliban could be impersonated by one of Cirque‘s Muscular-Contortionists, Olympic-Swimmers, or Acrobats!
There was even a point in Ka when the Shaman or Magus seemed to lay-down his symbolic adornments, rather like Prospero discarding his Magic Robe…
I saw Ka long ago in its touring version, played under canvas. It was impressive then, but it could not have traveled with the amazing Vegas MGM-Grand Machinery, including the ornate Auditorium-Architecture of playable Towers & Linking-Corridors, which suggest a StarWars Prison in the Distant Future.
The immense Rotating-Cage Device—seen initially in small-format, like some kind of Infernal Machine—moves forward on one of the huge moving-stages so that both the Clowns & some Superb Acrobats can Leap, Run, Skip-Rope, & Crack Whips on the outer-surfaces of the rapidly rotating cages! Breathtaking—and performed without an Overhead-Cable, in case the acrobats slip & fall!
The Flight of a strange Bird-like Pterodactyl-Plane is also amazing. It makes those Flying-Machines at Kitty Hawk & in Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang look Unimaginative.
Even the immensely blown-up Shadow-Play of Fingers & Hands becoming Rabbits, Cats, Dogs, & Geese was the Best Ever!
For the Record, the Running-Order of Ka is The Pageant, The Storm, The Deep, The Archer’s Den, The Wash-up on the Shore, The Shadow-Play, The Climb, The Blizzard, The Flight, The Twin-Brothers in Captivity, The Forest People, The Slave Cage, The Battle Begins, & Aftermath.
Cirque du Soleil’s Franco Dragone MYSTÈRE [*****]
[At Treasure Island in the Mystère Theatre]
Cirque du Solei "Mystere". Photo by Tomasz Rossa.
How about Giant Kodo Drums descending from the Invisible-Heights to dangle over the audience while eerily-aerily-suspended drummers thunder on their immense diaphragms?
Don’t forget the Visual-Magic of The Ancient Bird & The Mountain!
There is so much amazing Bungee-Cord-Choreography in this Cirque staging that it makes Disney’s Broadway-Bungee-show, Tarzan, look like Amateur-Night!
[Would it be possible to buy-out Disney & Bob Crowley in order to recreate Tarzan in Vegas, but with the Imagination, Style, Skills, Talents & Technologies of Cirque du Soleil?]
Costumes & Clowns seem almost as important in this show as Acrobats & High-Fliers. How about that Big Diapered-Baby & the Big Red Ball?
For the Record, the Running-Order of Mystère is Opening, Baby, Aerial-Cube, Chinese-Poles, Hand-to-Hand, Dome-Dance, Bungee, Korean-Plank/Trampoline/Fast-Track, Clown, Aerial-High-Bar, Taiko, & Finale!
Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE [***]
[At the Mirage in the Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE Theatre]
Cirque du Solei presents The Beatles LOVE. Photo by Tomas Muscionico.
For Your Scribe, the most impressive Visual-Adornments of this Re-Mastered Beatles-Concert were the Projections on two immense curved-screens on opposing-sides of the immense auditorium & on the four immense transparent curtain-screens that occasionally quadrified the space.
Some of these images were Magical: Endlessly-Replicated White Clouds, flocks of wing-flapping White Seagulls… Silhouttes of Paul, George, John, & Ringo in performance…
What did not work visually—except for the Ever-Adoring Beatles-Fans—were the cheesy & oddly-coloured photographs from popular magazines & album-covers.
Of course this show is All About The Songs. It is not a Beatles Bio.
It is also obviously a Show-In-Progress that still needs to be more Defined & Refined, even Rethought…
The day after Your Roving Reporter departed for the Utah Shakespeare Festival, Yoko Ono & Sir Paul arrived for the First Anniversary of the show. It would have been very informative to have overheard their comments, especially as they had joined with Ringo & The Harrison Estate to make this possible.
Not to overlook the exploration of the EMI/Abbey Road Archives for Recording-Session-Masters to digitally Re-master & Manipulate for Love. From the Running-Order itemized below, you may have some idea of the number of complete Beatles Songs included, but there are others not here named, plus fragments of nearly 160 Beloved Beatles Repetitive-Lyrics!
Trademark Cirque du Soliel Acrobatics & Trapeze acts are almost Eclipsed or Obscured by all the Projections, Dazzling Lighting-Changes & Revolving-Spots, Dangling & Ambling Gag-Props, Itinerant-Clowns, Costumed-Character-Parades, Hanging Image-Frames, Decorated & Deconstructed Volkswagen-Beatles, & General Often-Chaotic Busy-Work of Acting-Out Beatles-Lyrics.
This is almost Too Much Too Soon…
Less would definitely Be More! But a kind of Octopus Aerial-Ballet has Potential for development from its current Celestial-Clutter.
Perhaps the show’s Conceptual-Creators Guy Laliberté & Dominic Champagne might want to Rethink some of the Chaotic-Clutter onstage?
Love is effectively Still in Process & it is developing in a re-designed theatre, which may be haunted by memories of White Tigers & Siegfried & Roy—whose Arena this once was. Before the Accident…
If you are occasionally overcome by Beatlemania, you will want to come to Vegas & the Mirage Hotel-Casino-Spa-Pool-Theatre-Boutique-Valet-Parking-Complex.
For the Record, the Running-Order of Love is Because, Get Back, Glass Onion, Eleanor Rigby, I Am the Walrus, Rock’n Roll Run (I want to hold your hand/Drive my car), Abbey Road, Gnik Nus/Something, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, Help!, Blackbird, Yesterday, Jam Session, Strawberry Fields, Parade, Within You, Without You, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Octopus’ Garden, Lady Madonna, Here Comes the Sun, Come Together, Revolution/Back in the U. S. S. R., While My Guitar Gently Weeps, A Day in the Life, Hey Jude, Sgt Pepper/reprise, & All You Need Is Love.
Donn Arden’s 25th Year JUBILEE! [*****]
[At the Bally’s in the JUBILEE Theatre]
Most Americans now living are much too young to have seen the fabulous Ziegfeld Follies in their heyday. But you can re-create that experience in Vegas at Donn Arden’s fabulous Bare-Breasted Jubilee!
Although Vegas now markets itself as a Family-Friendly Entertainment-Oriented Getaway-Adventure—rather than an Old-Fashioned Gambling-Hell—some Vegas Visitors will surely be much too young to watch this Colorful Revue.
You won’t see such Nearly-Naked-Lovelies at the Lido in Paris. Not to mention the Folies Bergère or the Moulin Rouge… Even the Muscular-Men & the Dancing-Boys bare their Pecs!
Something for Everyone! Except Tiny Tots…
The amazing costumes are Artworks in themselves. And—although the Showgirls’ Anatomies are daringly revealed—their clinging-webs of Jewels & Pearls, their towering Ostrich-plume Head-dresses, their elegant-Trains, & their Ornate Accessories continually astonish!
Most of the big Production-Numbers Out-Ziegfeld Ziegfeld, to judge from archival sketches by Erté & color-photos Joseph Urban settings of long, long ago.
The Sinking of the Titanic—as staged in Jubilee!—is much more impressive than it was on Broadway. It rivals the movie—even without Leo & Kate.
But there’s also Samson & Delilah, which almost Out-Mets the Metropolitan Opera’s current production.
The Big Production-Numbers are somewhat buffered by Talented Duos—performing In One, while big sets are changed behind the scene-curtain. They have a Big Challenge, competing with hordes of Glamourous Showgirls: two Tiny Asian Acrobats contorting into cans, two Gauchos swinging their bolos…
The Finale is a Salute to Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, featuring the famed Red-Feather Fan number, in which huge Ostrich-plume fans alternately Conceal & Reveal the Bare-Breasted Beauties.
[Fifty years ago—when Your Scribe was teaching in Vegas—Sally Rand performed her famous Nude Fan-Dance at the Silver Slipper with a White Ostrich-Feather Fan, under Blue Lights. At the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair—actually the Golden Gate International Exposition—the infamous Sally presided over Sally Rand’s Nude-Ranch. I was not allowed to enter…]
For the Record: The opening-number cost $3 million dollars to design & produce. The show features 100 sets & backdrops! The stage is 15 stories tall. It has three double-decker stage-elevators. There are also six small elevators & two revolving elevators.
More than 1,000 costumes are used, many designed by the legendary Bob Mackie & Pete Menefee. The initial Costume-Costs were $3.5 million! Finale-Costumes average $7,000 each.
Costumes require 8,000 miles of Sequins: they could reach to Paris & Back! All the Jewelry would weigh 10,000 lbs—if you could get it off the girls & the costumes at one time and had a scales big enough to do the job.
In 1980, there was a World-Wide Rhinestone-Shortage: they were all being used in Jubilee!
Ten pounds of Explosives are used in Pyrotechnic-Effects. 5,000 gallons of Recycled-Water cascade onstage in the Iceberg-Scene!
Vulture & Turkey-Feathers are used as well as Ostrich Plumes & Pheasant-Feathers!
Clint Holmes’ JAM/JUST ANOTHER MAN [****]
[At the University of Nevada Las Vegas Judy Bayley Theatre]
First-off, Jam is a Musical-Bio in Process, although its Vegas-Unveiling was its nominal World-Premiere.
Its Major-Asset is its Centerpiece-Performer, the very charming & multi-talented Clint Holmes, a great Vegas-Favorite, as well as a Nationally-Known TV-Personality.
Just Another Man—as the Nevada Conservatory Theatre audience soon discovers—is not really just another man at all. He is called Rei Coles, although a lot of Clint Holmes’ Talents & Life-Journey seem to be embodied in Music & Action in this compelling Cabaret-style show.
Coles—like Holmes—survives Cancer to create a Charitable Foundation. Like Holmes, he also is the son of an African-American World War II Soldier in Britain [Earl Turner], who marries a lovely English Opera-Singer [Tina Walsh].
Although there is a lot of Holmes in this, the program assures viewers that the characters are Composites!
Relocated to an all-white American community after the war, both he & his sister suffer Racial Slurs. The entire Coles clan is ignored by the rest of the white families.
Coles’ isolated & unfulfilled mother tries to train him for a career as a Serious Singer—to live vicariously through him. But his talented dad wants to make him a Cool Jazz-Man.
This won’t work-out—to his father’s angry disappointment—for he is already developing as a brilliant Bebop Scat-singer & Swinger.
Later, this Career-Pattern repeats itself, when he tries to make his equally-talented son [Tezz Yancey] copy what he does. Popular Tastes in Cutting-Edge Afro-lnspired Music are moving on, as is the Recording-Industry, which no longer needs Rei Coles’ dated Songs & Styles.
This has the Look of a show that hopes it is Broadway-Bound: both a Cabaret-Bio & a Juke-box Musical, with all the lyrics by Holmes—who co-composed the music with Bill Fayne, who also collaborated on the book with Holmes & show-director Larry Moss.
Jam closed the Nevada Conservatory Theatre’s current season, but Peter Shaffer has revised his celebrated Amadeus for the NTC’s September opening of the 2007-2008 season.
Also scheduled are: Fiddler on the Roof, Come Back Little Sheba, Lysistrata, & Doubt.
The NTC works closely with the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Department of Theatre, using the UNLV Campus Judy Bayley Theatre. Among the Theatre Faculty are a number of well-known theatre-experts, including Robert Benedetti.
Years ago, we were two of a team writing a five-part Introduction to Theatre for a Major Academic Publisher. The envisioned Intro never reached completion, but Bob Benedetti’s section on Comedy was published in its Own Right.
Mine is titled The Uses of Theatre History; it will soon be available online in the Glenn Loney Book Shop at ArtsArchive.biz.
Also among the UNLV Theatre Faculty is Prof. Emeritus Paul Harris, a Stanford PhD colleague—who effectually followed my Brief-Semester of teaching at the former Nevada Southern.
NEW WORK WORK-SHOPPED BY SUNDANCE!
Philip Himberg—Producing Artistic Director of the Sundance Theatre Institute Program—came down to Vegas from Redford Country in Sundance, Utah, to tell ATCA members about the various programs for developing new works for both the Dramatic & the Musical-Theatre.
Emerging Creators can work on their new projects in Utah, in July, at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab. This is a three-week workshop-experience—in which they are Mentored & Challenged—may involve as many as eight plays annually.
In Florida, Sundance has a Theatre Lab in December, at Mikhail Barishnikov’s White Oak retreat. Here only two new musicals are cast & rehearsed. Unlike the July workshops—for which works are double-cast & rehearsed on alternate days: M W F & T Th S—the musicals are individually-cast & rehearsed-daily.
Grey Gardens grew out of this Florida workshop. For the Vegas Sundance Presentation, this Tony-winning show’s composer, Scott Frankel, was on hand to play & sing songs from Grey Gardens & some other shows in process.
But the Sundance Institute also has a February Playwrights Retreat at Upcross, in Wyoming. This past winter, Sundance hosted such talents as Ellen McLaughlin, Peter Foley, & Ruben Santiago Hudson!
There are now also International Initiatives, as well as Second Stage Workshops with American Regional Theatres.
Among the shows that have been developed with Sundance Institute Aid are: Light in the Piazza, I Am My Own Wife, The Laramie Project, Well, Crowns, Taking Flight, & Ruby Sunrise. All of these have been seen subsequently in New York, as well as around the nation in regional-theatres!
For more information, see the Sundance-Website: www.sundance.org. Or contact: Philip_himberg@sundance.org.
SHOWS [REGRETABLY] NOT SEEN:
Even with two shows an evening—and some Matinées as well—for almost a week, it was not possible to check-out all the Major Attractions on offer. And certainly no time for the Minors…
Thus, Your Scribe missed Wayne Newton, Mama Mia!, Penn & Teller, George Wallace, The Price Is Right, Chippendales, Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, The Second City, ICE: Direct from Russia, The Improv, Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity, & other treats!
Imagine not having time to see Celine Dion? Or Barry Manilow’s show!
Your Roving-Reporter can remember when Barry was playing piano down on 13th Street for that long, long-running production of The Drunkard! You’ve come a long way, Barry!
MAJOR & MINOR VEGAS SITES & SIGHTS:
Sirens show of Treasure Island on the Strip.
When you come to Vegas, you certainly won’t want to miss riding on the Monorail—even if it does not really connect with all the hotel-casino-theatres on the Strip & its Seven-Stations are well-concealed at the rear of most of the venues it does serve.
While the Liberace Museum is not as High-Class as the Guggenheim Hermitage Treasures at the Venetian, it is still an Amusing Novelty. Sad to think that younger Vegas Tourists do not know who he was. Or why…
The Bellagio, of course, is famed for its Fine Arts Collections. Not to overlook the free Dancing-Waters fountain-displays in the ten-acre-lake out front! But Steve Wynn is showing his Wynn Collection at Wynn Las Vegas, as well. That venue has an outdoor Waterfall.
The Luxor has King Tut’s Tomb. Then there’s Shark Reef at the Mandalay next door & the Dolphin-Habitat at the Mirage.
The Mirage also has a Volcanic Eruption on schedule, while Treasure Island has a very popular free-show featuring a Pirate-Ship Battle. There’s a three-story Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand, but the Miarge has Siegfried & Roy’s White Tigers on display.
You can take the Glass-Elevator to he Observation Deck of the 50-story Eiffel Tower at Paris. Or you can visit Madame Tussaud’s—but you can now see her waxworks in almost every major city…
At the Hilton-Complex, there’s Star Trek: The Experience™, with Thrill-Rides at the top of the Stratosphere Tower. How about the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus, or Neonopolis in Downtown Vegas?
The Imperial Palace may sit behind Strip-front attractions, but it boasts an immense Vintage Auto Collection—with handsome vehicles that all seem to be on sale, if the Price Is Right.
Even aspects of the US Government Research are on display at the Atomic Testing Museum: See color-photos of Mushroom-Clouds!
Viva Las Vegas wedding Chapel 12/14/05.
Some 40-plus Wedding-Chapels are listed in Vegas Visitors’ Guides. Most Major Hotel-Casino-Complexes offer such venues! Both Graceland & Elvis Chapels are available for Blue-Suede-Shoe Fans.
Sign seen on Las Vegas Boulevard—between The Vegas Strip & Downtown Frémont Street—Wedding-Chapel & Motel! How about Wedding-Chapel & Motel & Pawn-Shop?
There are also a number of Bail-Bond Establishments: In Vegas, Something for Everyone!
But be careful. What happens in Vegas may end up in The National Enquirer. What stays in Vegas could be the cash to pay-off your Sub-Prime Mortgage!
Copyright Glenn Loney, 2007. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney, New York Theatre Wire." Reproduction rights please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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