‘Sass With Class’ to bring showgirl-inspired production to Starbright

Who says Las Vegas has no more vintage shows?

Rich Rizzo’s Las Vegas Follies plans to perform “Sass With Class” at 7 p.m. June 15 and 2 p.m. June 16 at the Starbright Theatre, 2215 Thomas W. Ryan Blvd.

The Las Vegas showgirl-inspired production features impersonators Frankie Kein and Manuel Arte, singer Joe LaVigna, artist Terry Ritter and magician Angelica.

“Sass With Class” involves about two dozen acts and opens with a “Luck Be a Lady” medley. Other songs include “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” “Too Darn Hot” and “Let Me Entertain You.”

This day at rehearsals, Rizzo put the dancers through their paces at a local community center dance studio. Rizzo is known for his choreography in the “Jubilee!” and “Lido de Paris” production shows, among others.

Cardboard tents with numbers, leaning up against the mirrored wall, helped the dancers maintain their spacing.

“That’s it, girls, and one, two, three,” Rizzo called out, working alongside them. He sang along with the music when he knew the words, resorting to “dah, dah, dah’s” when he didn’t.

He made them run through their numbers numerous times before giving them a break. The dancers gathered at the side, catching their breath and sipping from water bottles.

“He expects us to dance like we’re 20 years old,” joked Carol Cravens, dabbing her brow.

There were tongue-in-cheek protests of no oxygen bottles waiting in the wings, but the yoga togs didn’t lie. A lifetime of dancing has kept all the women — the youngest of whom is 67 and the oldest 80 — in remarkable shape.

In the actual performance, the women will get to catch their collective breath while other acts, such as magician and bird handler Angelica, are on stage.

“She holds the world record of making the largest number of birds appear in the shortest amount of time,” Las Vegas Follies board member Teresa Cushman said.

After taking five, the women stepped back onto the studio floor to work on their moves. For this show, the Las Vegas Follies is slated to have two six-hour rehearsals at the Starbright Theatre. It will include the risers, which, this day, the dancers had to imagine were in the dance studio.

Cushman said it was difficult to translate the show from rehearsing in a dance studio to being on the real stage.

“Stages are not all the same size,” Cushman said. “So, if you’ve got eight beats to get to the center, you may not (actually have) eight beats to get to the center, and you either have to take bigger steps or start a couple beats early. So, you’ve got to work through all that.”

“He doesn’t treat us like seniors,” Cushman said of Rizzo. “He just gives us the steps, then (when we’re panting) goes, ‘That was a hard one, I’m surprised you got it.’ But that’s what sets us apart. A lot of senior dancers come out with the boas and the kick line, and that’s it.”

Instead, the routines for “Sass With Class” are closer to something the UNLV Rebel Girls dancers might do for basketball fans at the Thomas & Mack Center.

“He’s marvelous, but he doesn’t cut us any slack,” said Jody Walker of Rizzo. “That one number is 10 minutes long.”

Cushman said that as much as the dancing kept them in shape, learning the routines helped the mind stay sharp.

The Las Vegas Follies has performed at the Starbright Theatre and the Winchester Cultural Center before. It’s also taken its show to Mesquite.

Tickets for “Sass With Class” are $15 for Sun City Summerlin residents and $18 for nonresidents. For more information, call 702-240-1301 or visit lasvegasfollies.com.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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