Las Vegas Theater Review: JUBILEE! (Jubilee Theater at Bally’s Las Vegas)

by Dan Zeff on January 22, 2012

in Theater-Las Vegas

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THIS SHOWGIRL NEVER AGES

For the typical visitor, Donn Arden’s Jubilee! is what Las Vegas entertainment is all about – spectacle, elegance, and acres of nubile topless young ladies descending a giant staircase. The show has been a staple of the Las Vegas scene for 30 years at Bally’s Hotel (excluding a remodeling hiatus) and currently boasts that it is the longest-running production in Las Vegas.

Don Arden’s Jubilee! At the Bally's Jubilee! Showroom - Las Vegas Theater Review by Dan Zeff – photo by Denise Truscello

Jubilee! hasn’t changed in its essentials throughout its long history. The variety acts may vary, but the main production numbers remain intact – notably a kitschy scene that recreates the Samson and Delilah story (more in the mode of Hollywood fantasy than Old Testament). Later on, a live-on-stage rendering of the last night on the Titanic remains an impressive-if-campy production number; the climax features a giant model of the ship sinking in the icy Atlantic. The special effects in both bits still set a lofty bar for high tech stagecraft in Las Vegas.

Don Arden’s Jubilee! At the Bally's Jubilee! Showroom - Las Vegas Theater Review by Dan Zeff – photo by Denise Truscello

I saw Jubilee! several times during the 1990s, and attending it now is like visiting an old friend who has improved with age. The showgirls at the performance I attended actually seemed to be enjoying themselves as they paraded across the vast stage (in contrast to the frozen smiles of the show’s past incarnations). The astounding variety and opulence of the costumes (based on original designs by Bob Mackie and Peter Menefee) looked fresher and more creative. It’s rumored that Jubilee! boasts 1,000 costumes and 8,000 miles of sequins – those numbers struck me as legitimate; perhaps even conservative.

Don Arden’s Jubilee! At the Bally's Jubilee! Showroom - Las Vegas Theater Review by Dan Zeff – photo by Denise Truscello

The variety acts remain top of the line, equal to anything you’ll see at a high-end circus; but perhaps the greatest pleasure – at least for spectators of a certain age – is the show’s celebration of the Great American Songbook. In a city that tends to overwhelm the visitor with deafening rock music in the show rooms, casinos, and even outdoors, Jubilee! salutes melodies by the likes of such great pop music composers as George Gershwin and Cole Porter. The delightful songs are served up with opulent choreography, and the splendid vocalizing by the soloists is backed by a huge chorus. Much of the show is like stepping back into a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical of the 1930s, rendered with respect and artistry. After three decades, Jubilee! still stands tall in spectacle, glamour, and high tech effects.

Don Arden’s Jubilee! At the Bally's Jubilee! Showroom - Las Vegas Theater Review by Dan Zeff – photo by Denise Truscello

NOTE: Because of the topless element, Jubilee! is restricted to patrons 18 and older, but there is a tamed down version on Saturday evenings open to patrons 13 and older.

Don Arden’s Jubilee! At the Bally's Jubilee! Showroom - Las Vegas Theater Review by Dan Zeff – photo by Denise Truscellophotos by Denise Truscello

Jubilee!
Jubilee Theater at Bally’s Las Vegas
every day but Friday at 7:00 and 9:30
open run
for tickets, call 702.777.2782 or 855.234.7469
or visit Bally’s

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