Showing that the classic Las Vegas variety extravaganza maintains a heartbeat, a show with that very title is moving into the old Jubilee Theater.
“Extravaganza — The Las Vegas Spectacular” opens March 14 at the venerable venue at Bally’s. The show arrives from Hanoch Rosènn, producer of the plucky “Wow – The Vegas Spectacular” at the Rio. The feathery, topless “Jubilee” show (itself an extravaganza) hauled out in February 2016.
Since, the hotel has rolled out the “Masters of Illusion” from December 2017 through September 2018, and a Dionne Warwick residency last April and May. Vocal impressionist Véronic DiCaire has also headlined the room, toggling show times with “Jubilee.”
That show’s original acronym “WOW” stood for “World Of Wonder,” with a signature pool in the middle of the stage. “Extravaganza” doesn’t feature such an effect, but does feature comedy and side acts in the same scale as “Wow.”
“Extravaganza” sets itself apart with a cohesive storyline, and such adult elements as showgirls in traditional, revealing costumes.
“It is sexier than ‘Wow,’ it has more dancers, with a theme that runs through the show,” says Rosènn, who has run a version of the production titled “Wow Vegas” for 18 months at the luxury Isrotel Theatre in Eilat, Israel. “It’s also a homage to the city of Las Vegas.”
Nonetheless, the show will be suitable for ages 5 and up. Tickets are $49.99-$109.99 (not including fees) and on sale 10 a.m. Wednesday at Ticketmaster.com.
In his “Extravaganza,” Rosènn has a script featuring a man who is down on his luck, having a terrible day, in an undefined city but is akin to New York. He passes a homeless man on the street during a downpour and offers him an umbrella. The homeless man shows his gratitude by gifting a one-way bus ticket to Las Vegas, which he’d been given earlier.
The luckless man then embarks a fast-paced journey to Vegas, as new 3D-LED screens display many of the city’s famous images and landmarks. He arrives in the middle of a fancy show, with dancers, acrobats, aerialists, skaters and comics.
Some elements are easily recognizable. There is a single showgirl character, of course. Ventriloquist Kevin Huesca, a star in Italy, works with an Elvis puppet. The Globe of Death, a fixture in “Splash” at Riviera, is also in the mix.
Rosènn promises hologram images of such famous Vegas entertainers as Presley and Frank Sinatra, and also of “Jubilee” dancers. The show’s early description recalls the template for “Vegas! The Show” at Saxe Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.
But “Extravaganza” does not incorporate singers, as does “Vegas!,” and leans on comedy, the showgirls and specialty acts. The show’s cast is already filled, with 32 international artists, a similar structure to “Wow” at the Rio.
Rosènn says this show will stand alone, offering, “This is not like ‘Wow’ any more than ‘Ka’ is like ‘Mystere,’” the producer says. “It will be seen as different, and it is a tribute to the city that has been such an inspiration to me.”
Speaking of extravaganza
Say this for the UNLV Jazz Ensemble I orchestra and music director Dave Loeb: This crew attracts a crowd.
Legendary jazz drummer Butch Miles, trumpet great Kenny Rampton, jazz vocal great Michelle Johnson, tap-dance master Aaron Turner AND the Las Vegas Master singers join the award-winning Ensemble I at 7 p.m. Saturday at Ham Hall.
Venerable vocalist Don Cunningham, and Jazz at Lincoln Center artists Jerome Jennings, Julius Tolentino and Christopher Dorsey are also on the bill.
The music showcase is part of the Essentially Ellington Regional High School Band Festival hosted by the UNLV School of Music Division of Jazz Studies, which Loeb directs.
General admission tickets are $10, $8 for seniors and military with proper ID (info at the UNLV Performing Arts Center website).
Some free-of-charge tidbits: Rampton is from Las Vegas and studied music at UNLV and the Berklee College of Music, and has performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the “Sesame Street” band. Loeb played on the Academy Award-winning score for “Pocahontas,” composed by Alan Menken. Johnson once sang “Hey Jude” with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in 1993 at the Hollywood Bowl, in a chorus at an Earth Day all-star show in 1993. Turner, of course, was runner-up in Season 10 of “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2013. All true.
Piece of him
A Vegas-centric highlight in the incoming “Ru Paul’s Drag Race Live!” at Flamingo is Britney Spears tribute artist Derrick Barry. The drag star unleashed the Spears act on “America’s Got Talent” in 2008, reaching the Season 3 quarterfinals. Barry-as-Spears was also a featured performer in “Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas” on the Strip, and in June was named one of the top 100 Most Powerful Drag Queens in America by New York magazine. How one goes about ranking “power” in this context is a mystery, but Barry is great.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.