‘ShowStoppers’ a gift to theater lovers, wrapped in a belt

You say that for Christmas, all you really want is a belt?

So modest and humble you are. We’ll make sure it’s a really nice one and …

What? Sorry, misunderstood. You said all you really want for Christmas is a belter!

Whew. Woulda been bad if I undershot your waist size.

“ShowStoppers” has enough roof-rattling voices to fill the stockings of all your out-of-town guests, Thanksgiving and Christmas both. It’s the only show on the Strip that gives you Sammy Davis Jr.’s signature song “Once in a Lifetime,” and then, a little bit later, Barbra Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

The classic-Broadway revue is closing in on its first anniversary at the Wynn Las Vegas. Because it’s officially advertised as “Steve Wynn’s ShowStoppers,” and because the title page of the program tells us it’s “conceived and written by Stephen A. Wynn,” lasting a year may not be as big a surprise as the survival of a big-cast, live-orchestra production show not personally micromanaged by a casino chairman (who happens to be the recorded narrator as well).

Think of it as kind of a community give-back, this show that, oddly, doesn’t seem to be as commercial as it should be. If there’s a knock on this gift horse, it’s the dated air of its costumes and approach. It’s not just that it’s a retrospective of golden-age Broadway musicals from 1946 through 1975. It’s a revue staged as it would have been in 1985.

An odd kind of retro, and yet one that will sit comfortably with older, often-neglected Las Vegas visitors who may remember 1985 as a very good year. If younger folks snicker at the silver top hats, red bow ties and pink-spangled jackets, younger folks who love Broadway won’t. Whether or not they like the gift-wrapping, they get to hear great voices sing timeless favorites from “Cabaret,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “Guys and Dolls.”

The idea of rolling up only the biggest numbers from the big Broadway shows comes with two huge challenges, and “ShowStoppers” at least conquers one of them: If the songs are out of context — and only a few with sets and staging to approximate the original story — do we still invest in them and the people performing them?

The answer isn’t original, just well executed: Recruit six lead singers of different ages and types, and let them click as an ensemble. Here’s where a year helps. A new opening lets the six leads introduce themselves with “There’s No Business Like Show Business” before the dancers join in and the stage erupts into a fullblown “It’s Today” from “Mame.”

The principals use their real names and break into small groups, winningly pitting the barrelhouse voice of Randal Keith (a “Les Miserables” Valjean) in a note-holding battle with Rachel Tyler. And since she’s singing the Annie Oakley part, you can probably guess who fares better on “Anything You Can Do” from “Annie Get Your Gun.”

The second challenge is tougher. Yes, “Chicago” had three big showstopping songs: “Razzle Dazzle,” “Cell Block Tango” and “All That Jazz.” But they didn’t come all in a row. A lot of story and character songs were spread in between.

Likewise, the composers of “Big Spender” (from “Sweet Charity”) never intended for their standout number to be chased two songs later by “Razzle Dazzle,” another big step-and-strut, play-directly-to-the-audience number from an entirely different show.

The answer here for Wynn and director Philip McKinley — who also served as “the fixer” for Broadway’s troubled “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” — might have been to ask, “Weren’t there any quiet showstoppers?”

They get close, though. If the pretty ballads of, say, Stephen Sondheim weren’t available, our ears at least get to dial down for Nicole Kaplan’s sexy-cute perfection of “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” from “Damn Yankees.” Another comic turn by Kaplan on “Nobody Does It Like Me,” from “Seesaw,” also serves as the rare song to surprise an audience challenged by overfamiliarity and so many songs in the same timbre.

Those solo front-of-curtain numbers have expanded since “ShowStoppers” opened, along with the arrival of a whole “Guys and Dolls” sequence. It begins with Andrew Ragone (Raoul in The Venetian’s “Phantom”) belting “Luck Be a Lady” and leads into another fine example of Marguerite Derick’s always precise, storytelling choreography on “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” as church breaks out amid classic Fremont Street neon signs.

The one true showstopper, the one that gets everything right, is “Cell Block Tango.” Fronted by a ferocious Lindsay Roginski — a Broadway Roxie Hart — it’s both faithful to the original number and a Vegas-like take on it, an aspirational blend indeed.

By the time the cast re-creates the circular choreography of “One” from “A Chorus Line,” you may or may not miss the era of high-stepping, satin-and-sequin production shows. But you will be happy to see something even more old-fashioned — people singing and dancing at a level that can floor you — is alive and well, and living up to the city’s entertainment legacy.

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com and follow @mikeweatherford on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Dream of AJ Montgomery
AJ Montgomery lost part of his leg in a vehicle accident but found his dream as a performer in “Le Reve.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kelly Clinton-Holmes of the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes chats with Kelly Clinton-Holmes, director of the Stirling Club's New Year's Eve entertainment.
Month-by-month entertainment coming in 2019
“True Detective” Season 3, HBO (Jan. 13) Travis Scott, T-Mobile Arena (Feb. 6) Robbie Williams, Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas (March 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16) “Game of Thrones” Season 8, HBO (April) Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (May 17-19) “Fiddler on the Roof,” The Smith Center (June 4-9) “The Lion King” (July 19) Psycho Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay (Aug. 16-18) Life is Beautiful, downtown Las Vegas (Sept. 20-22) “Tim Burton @ the Neon Museum” (Oct. 15) “Frozen 2” (Nov. 22) “Star Wars: Episode IX” (Dec. 20)
Lacey Huszcza invites you to find something to love at the Las Vegas Philharmonic
Lacey Huszcza, executive director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic talks about the orchestra's wealth of programming. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gina Marinelli offers La Strega preview
Gina Marinelli used a pop-up New Year’s Eve dinner at Starboard Tack to preview items she’ll feature at her new Summerlin restaurant, La Strega. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Year’s Eve at Sparrow + Wolf
Sparrow + Wolf’s New Year’s Eve party was a sort of official unveiling of its newly renovated space. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Debra Kelleher Of The Stirling Club
Debra Kelleher, DK Hospitality President talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the Stirling Club.
Richard Ditton Of The Stirling Club
Richard Ditton, an investment partner of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
NYE at the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes reports from the reopening of the Stirling Club on New Year's Eve 2018.
Michael Stapleton of the Stirling Club
Michael Stapleton, COO of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
Recap the Countdown on Fremont Street — VIDEO
Nearly 40,000 people packed Fremont Street to enjoy America's Party Downtown. As the tradition stands, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman counted down the clock on the 3rd Street Stage, alongside her husband and former mayor, Oscar Goodman.
New Year's Eve live from the Las Vegas Strip Bellagio Fountains - Video
Reporter Aaron Drawhorn near the Bellagio Fountains as hundreds of thousands gather to celebrate New Year's Eve in Las Vegas
Ryan Reaves describes the flavors in Training Day beer
Ryan Reaves talks about the flavor of Training Day, the new beer from 7Five Brewing that was launched at the PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves describes his new beer
Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves talks about his new beer from 7Five Brewing at a launch party at PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' five biggest NYE concerts
Imagine Dragons at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Lady Gaga at The Park Theater at Park MGM, Maroon 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Bruno Mars at T-Mobile Arena, and Tenacious D at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye @bizutesfaye
New American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
Bellagio Conservatory display is Majestic Holiday Magic
Majestic Holiday Magic at the Bellagio Conservatory
Las Vegas Ready for 2019 NYE Fireworks Show
The city of Las Vegas is ready to celebrate "America's Party" with a new and improved fireworks show that will pay tribute to the Golden Knights.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like