Bad economy or a bum knee keeping you from your planned trip to Las Vegas? Fret not. You can get an copycat version of Sin City in 2 1/2 hours, plus a little New Port Richey and Hudson and minus airport security lines, at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre's Viva Vegas - the Sequel, playing matinees and evenings through May 31.
Worked loosely around the story of two Vegas and road show retirees (a hilariously bewigged Matthew McGee as Morty and glamorous Katie Kerwin as the braying Sylvia) returning to Vegas from New Port Richey for one last show at their former haunt, the soon-to-be-demolished Breaking Winds Casino, the new version of the 2006 Viva Vegas is indeed bigger and better, thanks to McGee and Michael Ursua's script and music and Tom Hansen's glittery sets, lights and special effects.
The biggest difference between the 2006 and current show, however, is the addition of W.C. Green (King Marchand in Victor/Victoria, the wildly comic Boss in Thoroughly Modern Millie), whose versatility continues to surprise and delight. In this show, he's the sophisticated Crooner (Moon River) who also does a remarkable Tom Jones (She's a Lady) and respectful, astounding and lengthy tribute to Elvis Presley.
Is there anything this talented young man cannot do? Besides comedy, drama (Emile in South Pacific), crooning and impersonations, Green's bio lists his other talents as award-winning artist, illustrator and photographer. In this show, Green captures the voice, moves and emotions of the King, characterizing rather than caricaturing the all-time Vegas favorite. No wonder musical director Ursua expanded the "Hunk of Burning Love" segment of the show; Green's Elvis deserves a longer look, whether you're an Elvis fan or not.
There's plenty more in this show, however, not the least of which is McGee's trademark comic shtick, Kerwin's amazing belt and Millicent Hunnicut's mellow to sultry singing, which gives the audience some calm, relaxed time to catch its breath from all the high-energy dancing by the 12-member chorus.
The show takes the audience on a tour of several Vegas showrooms and bars, one favorite being the Neon Cowboy, where Adrian Mancinelli and Ben Simpson do a breathtaking Devil Went Down to Georgia as the dancers burn up the floor with their dancing and clogging. It should be noted that Simpson stepped in at the last moment when original cast member Todd S. Mummert was called out of town, and he acquits himself quite nicely.
Other fun surprises are singer-dancer Christopher Schoendorf in Boot Scootin' Boogie and Olin Davidson channeling the flamboyantly gay character Jack from the television sitcom Will and Grace as the very fey dance captain at the Breaking Winds Casino, then turning all serious as an accomplished dancer in a pas de deux ballet with Courtney Tilford during Green's Moon River.
There's also the popular Las Vegas audience participation bit; a ridiculously over-the-top production number, "Escape from Planet Glamazon"; female impersonators; male strippers; and a clever, comical, breakneck musical tour of all the cities and burgs Morty and Sylvia have played in their up-and-down careers.
Like Vegas itself, Viva Vegas - the Sequel sometimes seems like too much — we could do without the tired-looking blacklight stripper number, for example — but, other than that, it really is like a night in faraway Sin City, with only a short drive back home.