If there's one place Floridians love as much as they love the beach, it's Las Vegas, land of glitz and glamor and a million memories.
That may explain the popularity of the Show Palace Dinner Theatre's tributes to Vegas over the years. And why producers Nick Sessa and Tommy Mara are doing a new and updated Vegas show March 2 through April 22 they're calling JACKPOT! The All New Las Vegas Musical Revue. It's a look at the neon nexus from its beginnings to today.
"This one is elegant and improves on the ones before," said Matthew McGee, artistic director at the Show Palace, which is winding up the blockbuster musical Hairspray on Sunday. "We're doing the kind of show you don't even see in Vegas anymore," especially the first act, which is a tribute to the Rat Pack, Tom Jones, Wayne Newton, Engelbert Humperdinck and Elvis, as well as the long-legged showgirls in their tiny spangles and feathers.
Previous Vegas shows had a lot of comedy and spoofs. This one is a more serious tribute to the great names that have filled the marquees and great songs that have filled the main stages and lounges through the years.
The second act features songs by Billy Joel, like Piano Man and Only the Good Die Young; Elton John's Crocodile Rock and Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me; and Barry Manilow, like Mandy and I Write the Songs, plus a tribute to the divas, such as Celine Dion, and stars like Michael Buble'.
Lead singers are Show Palace newcomers Larry Alexander (Marius in Broadway's Les Miserables), Janie Wallace (Joseph/Dreamcoat national tour), Jack Bartholet (NYC cabaret singer) and Jennica McCleary (Bette Midler impersonator in Legends in Concert), backed by singer-dancers David Tanciar, Megan Morgan, Taavon Gamble, Kate O'Connell, Bo Price, Maiza Ornelaz, Jarvis Mardis and Lacey Vasquez.
(Ms. McCleary won't be doing her Bette Midler act, but is in negotiations to do it later at the Palace Grand, McGee said.)
Writer-director Scott Daniel brought in two choreographers, one for each act. Former Las Vegas dancer Eric Nielsen captures the feel of the vintage Vegas in the first half; Show Palace singer, dancer, actor and choreographer Andi Sperduti (Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain) crafts the high-energy second act that showcases the athleticism and acrobatics of today's Vegas, McGee said.
"The show is slick, pretty, with one hit after another," McGee said. "It's classy, fun, with lots of dancing. If we just had some slot machines in the back, it would be just like Vegas." Instead, patrons who buy the special souvenir drinks will get a chance to win free Show Palace/Palace Grand passes, free drinks, gift certificates and a cruise for two to the Bahamas.
"You can get the whole thing — dinner, show, winnings — without having to get on a plane," McGee said.