You sense right away that “Sin City: The Golden Years (The Australia Project)” was not created to be performed at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Black Box Theatre.
The first tip-off is that nearly all the action — which consists of a 1963 New Year’s Eve “Fabulous Moonlight Lounge” act — is designed to please one area of the house. That’s perfectly fine, except the auditorium has three areas. There’s no set, except for the upstage band, whose members sit on a makeshift stage. The lights make no attempt at glamour. The playing time is a mere 45 minutes, which hardly merits the effort of the commute. And then there’s that title: What’s Australia have to do with what we’re watching?
You get no clue from the show or the production notes. I hate the self-congratulations of a pre-curtain speech, but if ever there were a time when one was needed, this is it.
Having had the advantage of reading a press release, I know that “Sin City” was written for Australia’s Adelaide Fringe Festival. The offerings there are short, technically sparse and executed on a tiny stage.
For me, the show’s primitiveness is not excused by its pre-fringe status. This isn’t an evening of theater; it’s a rehearsal for material that’s to be showcased in a whole different kind of venue. It’s a disgrace that people are being charged admission.
Sean Clark’s script, which is mostly filler between song standards, isn’t good or bad enough for us to enjoy. The lounge performers are meant to be (I assume) mediocre, but they’re not cleverly mediocre. The intentionally bad jokes that fall flat feel pointless. If this is all meant to give us a glimpse of the world of Sin City entertainment, I’m baffled about what kind of world Clark and director Sarah Norris think we’re glimpsing.
I couldn’t figure out why the show is set in 1963, and the author’s answer I got afterwards (that it was a bad year for America, and the film “Viva Las Vegas” was about to be released) just confused me more.
Norris’ direction is tepid. Spencer Rowe, though, as a velvet crooner, manages to cut through all the nonsense with a laid-back singing style that has genuine heart.
Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.REVIEW
What: “Sin City: The Golden Years (The Australia Project)”
When: 2 and 8 p.m. today; 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: Black Box Theatre, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway
Tickets: $12 (895-2787)