BWW Reviews: Vegas: The Show!: This One Deserves The Exclamation!
Think about it: How many times have you seen the title of a show or a movie with an exclamation point on the end? There's Oklahoma! Airplane! ¡Three Amigos! Mamma Mia! Hot Shots! Oliver!....and those are only a few. Some of them actually, depending upon your response, may have deserved the exclamation. Most, however, do not. An exception to this general truism is Vegas! The Show.
Having just celebrated its 500th performance, the show's word-of-mouth is excellent and, in truth, it merits both the word-of-mouth and that exclamation point.
Producer David Saxe has spared no effort in putting together an outstanding cast, a band that showcases the fact that Las Vegas shows really do have the best musicians, excellent direction and choreography - even the lesser numbers are very well done - and one wonderful set.
Vegas! The Show is a brisk walk down memory lane. We meet many of the usual suspects who are mentioned whenever the first "golden age" of the city's entertainment is discussed. There's the Rat Pack, young Wayne Newton, Tom Jones, Elvis, Sonny & Cher - the list (like the beat) goes on.
In addition to Saxe, the "visionaries" (as they are called in the production notes) include choreographer Tiger Martina who has worked as dancer and assistant to some the dance world's legendary figures including Michael Kidd, Twyla Tharp and Kenny Ortega, as well as Paula Abdul, Ron Lewis and Michael Darrin. He counts work with Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming among many other credits. Martina's work on Vegas! The Show is exceptional. The dances, while showcasing the skill of the dancers, are also witty and much fun to watch. He knows his material and his audience and his knowledge, along with his creativity and imagination, is clear.
Musical director Pat Caddick and bandleader Jerry Lopez are among the best in the city which means, of course, the best anywhere. Caddick's credits are a who's who of music today and Lopez, too, has worked with much of the soundtrack of American lives. His band, Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns is one of the most popular, beloved, in Las Vegas. Together, Caddick and Lopez have ensured that the music in Vegas! The Show sets the bar for other shows in the city.
The amazing neon boneyard set that opens and closes the show was designed by Saxe and it reflects not only Las Vegas, but the care and attention to detail with which this entire project was approached. It is wonderful. Between the opening nad closing is a set that looks as if it has been left over from Slaughter On Tenth Avenue or something. I'm told the show is a "work in progress." Hopefully, that odd, inner-city-like set will be replaced. But that is, indeed, a small quibble. Also small is my quibble with the video they show.....or, more precisely, the "screen" it is shown on.
It is a fascinating video covering Las Vegas' vintage hotels, implosions, marqueesl. But it is shown on a flimsy cloth rather than on a real screen so it is very difficult to watch. Hopefully, they will replace the cloth with a screen.
The only other quibble I had with the show is the inclusion of the song The Night They Invented Champagne from the film and the show (that lasted one performance on Broadway), Gigi. It's simply out of place. A straightforward tribute to the long-running Folies Bergere would have been better.
The cast is superlative. Reva Rice is at home on Las Vegas, Broadway and international stages. Trina Johnson-Finn, Jaime Preston and Joelle Righetti - Jenson are each impressive. Tezz Yancey, Gabriel Burrafato, David Villella and Tim Crasky are the vocalists. Each of them makes one want to see more; to see what else she or he can do.
Among the men, Eric Jordan Young (above left) and Lou Gazzara (above right) are absolute standouts. There's Young doing his thing as Sammy Davis, Jr. But he also does very credible turns as Louis Prima and Sonny Bono. Young can sing, he can dance and, as he proves in his solo scenes in the Neon Graveyard, he can act. Can't wait to see more of him.
Gazzara brings us his tributes to Sinatra, Elvis, Wayne Newton, Tom Jones and Elton John. All very good and very respectful as these performers each merit. He reveals a charming ability to dance and is, in short, a real asset to the show. The only wrong note - and it is clearly not his fault - is that when Gazzara performs as Tom Jones he wears clothing that Jones would never have worn. Everything is too big and too baggy. And that bilious colored jacket with the orange shirt should bring the fashion police down on him. It's an easy fix and should be fixed. Gazzara has a great voice and knows his material. A costume shouldn't be allowed to detract from his performance.
Specialty acts included in the show are magician Joseph Gabriel who also does the niftiest Liberace tribute you'll ever see and tap dancing twins Sean and John Scott. They leave you wanting more as you remember how key tap dancing used to be to entertainment. It still should be and, here, the Scott twins make you understand why that is so.
There is a backup group of 15 showgirls and guys who never let the glorious vintage Vegas vibe flag. In all, Vegas! The Show is just top-notch entertainment. It plays nightly at 7 pm and 9 pm in the Saxe Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino inside the Miracle Mile Shops. You should make it a point to see it.
For more information and for tickets, please visit www.vegastheshow.com or call toll-free, 1-866-932-1818.
From This Author Ellen Sterling