Three dancers in masquerade

After a short under-the-radar season last year, Club Vegas returned to The Athenaeum for a slightly longer run and a more star-studded opening night. 

The show’s starting point is its extensive collection of wild show girl get-ups – feathered, bedazzled and cumbersome – each more elaborate than the one before. They come from the extensive back catalogue of shows from Dion and Randall Entertainment (designed by Nina Randall).

The ornate, over-the-top costumes are stars unto themselves – sometimes so unwieldy that they seemed to be wearing the dancers rather than the other way around. They are a sight to behold – and take the audience back to a bygone era of campy glitz and fantastical spectacle. 

Like last year, the expansive show (which runs 2.5 hours with interval) is chock-full of random acts, from dance routines barely contained within the stage to singers belting out medleys of Lada Gage, Ricky Martin, J-Lo and Barry Manilow. Backdropped by loud, cartoonish video projections, the action is never quiet. 

Acrobatic partnership Duo Aussiebela intersperces the numbers with hand balance, aerial and adagio routines. Gino Starr (James Liotta), whose ethnic comedy is (purposely) a bit on the nose, appears as an MC, wearing too much gold and a confidence bigger than his fake Versace garb.  

Club Vegas is a whole lot of everything as it showcases style over substance in its crowded, amusing potluck of offerings. There are so many different people in the show, including 10 dancers and 3 singers, it’s hard to keep track of it all. 

Opening night, the backing music was turned up a bit too high, making it hard to appreciate the great pipes of both Rachel Beck and Lissa Dawson. Both kept popping in and out for vocal numbers with a highlight being Beck’s Singin’ in The Rain

But hands down the crowd favourite was newscaster-turned theatrical star Allan Raskall in a debut theatrical role. In a captain's jacket and hat, and backed by a few dancers, his karaoke-esque renditions of The Love Boat and a Village People montage had the audience jumping in their seats. 

Channelling Sinatra, crooner Jonathan Guthrie-Jones had the vocal chops and stage presence to bring a higher quality delivery to the theatrical content. His confident, on pointe renditions of songs like New York, New York and Mack the Knife hit the mark. Calling the show “a casserole of nonsense” as he doled out snidey jokes – his banter and presentation was the whole package.

Choreographer Alanna Scanlan (with co-choreographer Sue-Allen Shook) has changed some dance acts from last year’s show (which had a different choreographer). There’s still the gamut of disco, masquerade, Latin Pop and Tropicana – every cabaret theme you can think of gets a look in.

Club Vegas has complex moving parts and not everything went exactly to plan opening night, but it is entertaining and vibrant in all its free-wheeling excess resurrected from decades ago. A winter warmer for a chilly Melbourne weekend.

Event details

Club Vegas The Spectacle

Artistic Director Adam Bahoudian

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre | 188 Collins St, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 29 May – 2 June 2024
Tickets: from $79
Bookings: www.clubvegas.com.au

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