Seeing Jubilee on stage at Bally's is one thing, but experiencing the Jubilee All Access Backstage Walking Tour provides a whole different perspective on the show.
Since 1981, Jubilee has dazzled visitors from all over the world with its elaborate costumes and sets, and beautiful showgirls. One of the Las Vegas Strip's longest-running productions, Jubilee has proven itself to be more than just a topless show. People also come to see the stunning costumes, remarkable headdresses and lively dance routines.
In 2014, Jubilee was modernized by famed choreographer Frank Gatson Jr., who redesigned the show while staying true to Arden’s vision.
To gain true appreciation for Jubilee, the backstage tour is your golden ticket. Hosted by one of the show's charismatic cast members, a Jubilee dancer takes guests on an in-depth look at costumes, props, headdresses and much more.
Before heading backstage, the dancer gives a brief history of the show, including humorous personal experiences and funny mishaps that happen during a show (sometimes a dancer's heel can get stuck between elevator gaps on stage or a wig can be ripped off).
Once inside the dressing room, the tour guide shows several of the legendary Bob Mackie-designed outfits. Even if you're not into shopping or flipping through style magazines, you'll develop a strong appreciation for fashion. Some of these bedazzled costumes, in beautiful colors including turquoise, emerald green and sparkling sapphire, can weigh as much as 35 pounds. During the tour, visitors can pick up a costume and get an idea of how much weight dancers carry on stage.
The tour also includes a trip to the wardrobe crew room, where visitors can see the workers in action. This crew handles everything from laundry to costume maintenance, sequin stitching and alterations. Because fishnet stockings rip on a daily basis, the wardrobe team can spend as many as 13 hours a day mending them.
In addition to its gorgeous, sparkling costumes, Jubilee is also known for its huge collection of headdresses -- some weighing up to 20 pounds. Featuring virtually every color imaginable, the headdress room is like stepping into a crayon box full of feathers. These feathers come from all sorts of birds, including ostriches and vultures. Visitors are encouraged to take pictures of all the vibrant pieces.
Since these showgirls don some of the prettiest headdresses and costumes in town, keeping a fabulous physique is highly important. With all the different stair numbers -- sometimes over a thousand a night -- these ladies get quite the workout. And they still have to hit the gym.
While the nonstop dancing is the hardest challenge, quick wardrobe changes (seven to 11 costumes changes altogether) and make-up applications come naturally. It takes the dancers about 15 minutes to apply their own make-up.
In addition, each dancer must go through an audition process every six months.
Another important element to the production is the people you rarely see. The stagehand crew of close to 50 people contributes a lot to making the show a huge success, staging the props right on time. Some of these gigantic props weigh as much as 8,000 pounds.
Don't be scared to ask questions during the backstage tour. Keep in mind that no question is too bizarre for your tour guide. The dancers have heard -- and seen -- just about everything!
-- Staff Report