Sunday, January 5, 2014

Catching Jubilee!

Lately I'd been hankering to see that old warhorse Jubilee! at Bally's; the show's been around for thirty years, after all, and Vegas being what it is, nothing is likely to stick around forever. Besides, there are those millions of dollars of Bob Mackie costumes and feathered headdresses, and, at the ten o'clock show anyway, dozens and dozens of showgirls baring what must be acres of breasts. Of course, as I always say, if you've seen one, you've seen them both, but still.

Then, on my latest visit in December, I learned the show was being closed in mid-January for an overhaul: Beyonce's former creative director is being brought in to give it that 21st-century touch. I decided it was now or never if I wanted to see the show in its classic incarnation, so armed with coupons for an extra $2 off each half-price ticket at Tix-4-Tonight, we joined the lengthy serpentine line for the Jubilee Theater.
The show kicks off with a medley of standards from the American songbook, as Rod Stewart would say, and if I had to guess, it's the one sequence which would be ditched or reworked in the coming cleansing. Then, between acts when the curtain has dropped for an elaborate set change, performers take the stage for some jaw-dropping feats of acrobatics. The first big set piece is “Samson and Delilah,” with elaborate sets and costumes and a spectacular temple crashing that rivals the finale of Cecil B. DeMille's version. Next up is a trip aboard the Titanic, with more scenic eye candy, and, topping it all off, a dazzling salute to the Ziegfeld-style revues that inspired this show. It is, after all, the last of the great showgirl spectaculars that date back a century or so to impresarios like Flo Ziegfeld and George White, and you can't see anything quite like it anywhere else in the world anymore. If you can still catch it in its current version, why not? And at least if someone expresses an interest in seeing it with me when I'm back in town, I'm fairly confident I won't have to sit through the exact same show again.

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