The Ultimate Vegas Show
April 11 2014
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
Ok. Lemme’ just copy and paste for a bit. Trust me. It’s the best way.
Showgirls. Legends. Feathers. Sequins. Highkicks. Juggling that astounds. Magic…
From April 11, all the sizzle and spectacle of a true Las Vegas show will be celebrated at Jupiters Hotel & Casino as entertainment maestro Michael Boyd stages The Ultimate Vegas Show!
The Ultimate Vegas Show mixes world class magic and illusions with one of Las Vegas’ top jugglers and performance artists, and pays tribute to Dean Martin and other legendary greats through Australia’s best impersonators, all framed by a bevy of gorgeous Vegas Showgirls and boys and supported by a live band!
The Ultimate Vegas Show pays homage to the showgirl and all of her feathers, sequins, high kicks and heels; mixed with breathtaking magic and illusions and incredible juggling by Vegas sensation Romano Frediani who is flying in from Nevada for the season.
The show is choreographed by Todd Patrick, one of Australia’s dance leaders who began his formidable career with Disney and then Versace, Dior, Issey Miyaki, Gucci and Chanel across Europe and Asia. As a dancer he worked internationally, one of the highlights being as the principal in The Lido in Paris. He has worked with Australian music’s best including Guy Sebastian, Vanessa Amorosi, Zoe Badwi, Hi-5, Kate Ceberano and Dannii Minogue as well as international DJ’s and pop artists including Inaya Day (New York), Barbara Tucker (New York), Peyton (London), DJ Frankie Knuckles (New York) and Tune in Tokyo (Melbourne).
There. I think that’s all they would like me to tell you. That’s what you’re supposed to see. Well. If this is the ultimate Vegas show, Vegas can have it.
There’s something going on between the point of M2’s conceptualisation of these shows and the result. The last one, Cabaret de Paris didn’t enamour me to Michael Boyd’s style of production and I recall being very kind. (This is me being very kind). I’m beginning to wonder whether Jupiters themselves believe their hype. Brett Annable took to the stage first – the management seem to do this at Jupiters – and introduced the show, presumably for the sake of the punters who’d already had so much to drink in The Vegas Lounge AKA The Atrium Bar that they’d promptly forgotten what it was they were seeing. Following the opening number, we met David Cotter who has, apparently, “perfected the ultimate Dean Martin”. Whatever that looks and sounds like. If Cotter’s act had been approved for inclusion in any show I’d put money into, I’d be asking for it back. (NEVER PUT YOUR OWN MONEY IN THE SHOW!). I don’t think that’s too harsh. His lack of command over vocal pitch, pace and comic timing, his complete lack of charisma and confidence with the lyrics, not to mention the script, ultimately reveals him as a con, and by con I mean contender for the most laughable up-late karaoke you can imagine. I’M BEING KIND.
Poor Elvis doesn’t fare much better here. Dean Vegas is an internationally renowned entertainer with the Key to the city of Tupelo, where Elvis was born. HE IS THE ONLY ELVIS TRIBUTE ARTIST TO EVER RECEIVE THIS HONOUR. So naturally, I was looking forward to being suitably impressed. Here’s what I was impressed with:
Todd Patrick’s choreography is just fine; in fact, it’s really the most consistently entertaining aspect of the show. The dancers execute their high kicks, lifts, and lots of feather-touting strutting and sexy salsa, and in a strange jungle sequence that opens with a dance remix of Knock on Wood (Ha! I know!), and The Lion Sleeps Tonight, we witness for the first time in at least a decade, many, many canons and double pumps. But it works. Although, it has to be said; it did make me think of Showgirls, that dreadful, dreadful film Sam made us watch again for Diabolique research. Don’t ask. Whatever, Sam.
The dancers are terrific (I CAN DO TERRIFIC FAN KICKS!), albeit missing from the final moments of a routine halfway through the show when a mid-curtain descended in front of them, separating them from Elvis, who noticed nothing, so committed was he in finishing the number. There were other technical glitches, which by rights should have happened during previews, but then, WHAT EVEN ARE PREVIEWS IN THIS COUNTRY? I know. Don’t answer that. The dancers really are fine, and the girls are gorgeous and leggy and possibly all size 4 AND beautifully fit not hospitalised so I’m actually in awe of them. The boys come across at first as underfed and boyish, that is until they appear in their Copacabana costumes, revealing, importantly, very well worked upon ABS.
Romano Frediani is hopefully the only genuine LA talent (because IMAGINE the frustration in paying everybody to actually come from Vegas and ending up with only one genuine personality and bona fide born entertainer on stage). He is the real deal, and the only real hit, gauging by the vibe on opening night. (Compared to the toilet/bar break during Dean Martin’s big romantic number, this guy turns out to be a showstopper). We take a little while to warm to him but then, after simply juggling (no, it’s not simple, is it?), Frediani embarks on a ring tossing and catching act that has the house in stitches…and involved! Obviously, the success of this act is that he continues to fail…until he wins, and what a win it is! He is rewarded with the only genuine standing ovation of the night, from just a few, but this is as opposed to just a few standing up to make their escape, as people do, well before the end of the final curtain call. YOUR CAR WILL STILL BE THERE IN FIVE MORE MINUTES. CAN YOU STAY AND APPLAUD PLEASE? IT’S RESPECTFUL TO THE ARTISTS, WHO ARE NOT NECESSARILY TO BLAME FOR A SHOW THAT DOESN’T MATCH ITS PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL OR THE ORIGINAL VISION.
Michael Boyd does some pretty neat tricks, and brings out some pretty assistants. I do enjoy keeping up with the latest illusionist assistants’ look, which appears to be Black Milk Clothing meets custom made Roman Gladiator dominatrix style. It will catch on, you wait. And look, I don’t want to know the secrets behind the illusions, but I don’t want to be able to hazard a guess at how they’re done either so perhaps a bit more care with a couple of these acts will make them even more thrilling.
The band, led by MD Mal Wood, is fantastic, and it’s fantastic to see them on stage.
To be completely honest, I don’t understand Jupiters’ audiences and I don’t accept that there are no better ideas or creators out there. M2 Productions are not doing our Performing Arts industry any favours at the moment, except of course for consistently employing dancers, choreographers and costumiers, and for this I applaud Boyd and Jupiters. But can we up the anti already? I’ve given it two goes. Three strikes and you’re out!