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Las Vegas was built on pure, raw talent. That's producer David Saxe's stance and the concept behind his creation VEGAS! The Show at Saxe Theater. The show celebrates iconic moments from the city's rich entertainment history through the performances of 40 singers and dancers and 11, on-stage musicians.
“VEGAS! The Show” opens with a custodian named Ernie who works at Las Vegas’ Neon Museum - a graveyard for the once luminous signs of Vegas day’s past. Clad in a blue jumpsuit, Ernie reminisces about some of the most memorable entertainers who played Vegas and how the times have changed since then. Among the retired signs that once decorated the Strip include signs for the Glass Pool Inn, the Silver Slipper and the Sands among others.
However, with the earnest wish to treat the audience to a special night of how entertainment used to be, Ernie announces, "For one night only, we want you to suspend reality and join us on a journey back in time to experience some of the greatest entertainers who ever played Vegas,” and before we know it, the stage is transformed into a classic showgirl venue.
Along with picturesque Vegas showgirls, men wearing tuxedos and women in gowns take the stage for a glamorous song and dance number choreographed by Tiger Martina.
"We want to share with you the moments and the memories of that gleaming jewel in the desert," says Ernie who both acts as the master of ceremonies and performs as various entertainers from the past.
The scene changes to a swingin' number with Louis Prima and Keely Smith before transitioning to the 1960s when the Rat Pack played the Copa Room at the Sands. Throughout the show the set is constantly evolving into a new and exciting scene with dazzling costumes, incredible singing and contemporary choreography. Each scene represents a vintage Vegas act, but Martina's high-energy choreography, paired with innovative production elements, portrays iconic entertainers of years past with a new twist.
For example, Sammy Davis Jr.'s "The Candy Man" starts with a performer singing the song solo before being joined by a parade of showgirls. Dressed in fitted outfits with silver ruffles that say "Good & Plenty" "Almond Joy" and other candy names, the dancers throw out chocolate and other goodies to people in the audience during the song for a pretty sweet number.
Additionally the “Luck be a Lady” number is highlighted with one female lead dancer who dominates the stage of men as her suggestive dance moves seduce luck upon the onlooking men.
Bu as soon as the last note is hit, the scene quickly changes to another memorable Vegas act. While iconic entertainers are represented in the show, the performers aren't tribute artists. This is most apparent during the Elvis numbers.
Most people probably expect to see a white jumpsuit and a dark pompadour with side burns when it comes to Elvis, but not in this show.
"Yeah I know, I'm blond," says the performer representing Elvis.
He jokes with the audience, letting people know that what he and the other performers are doing isn't about emulating every aspect of famous entertainers. Instead they're celebrating the performers and what they might be like if there were still around today… but still with excellent talent at that.
"The heart of the city is gambling but the soul is music," says Ernie before performers representing Sonny and Cher appear on stage singing "I Got You Babe."
And truly embodying the elements of a variety show, the production includes other acts such as an amazing and hilarious hula hoop act, talking parrots, and a high-flying balance/ acrobatic act.
Toward the end of the show, the audience is treated to an Elton John tribute. A performer wearing a white suit and large glasses takes a seat at a white piano situated on stage in front of the curtain. As he sings "Rocket Man," video footage of vintage Vegas is displayed on the curtains. Some of the images are of the original acts that were just performed on stage, while others depict casinos in Vegas that have been imploded over the years. The video clip reminds everyone that while the landscape may have changed, the city is still home to fantastic entertainment with glitz and glamour that can only be found in Vegas.