February 22, 2016

Showgirls Go Extinct

It's sad that one of the last, old-fashioned, old school, good old showgirl extravaganza Jubilee! closed two weeks ago on the Vegas Strip after 34 years.  (See how I used 'old' three times in that sentence?) 

The Las Vegas Weekly's headline said it all - The Las Vegas Showgirl Goes Extinct.

It was the longest running show on the strip, opening in 1981, and closing February 11, 2016.  Here's some showbiz math for you, courtesy of the Las Vegas Sun's excellent article by Robin Leach - yes, that Robin Leach - Jubilee!'s fate.

When the show opened in July 1981, the average cost of one finale costume was $7,000 — or $21,000 now with inflation. More than 1,000 of them are worn during the show, many designed by Bob Mackie and Pete Menefee. The opening number cost $3 million to stage. There are 8,000 miles of sequins used on the costumes, enough to reach from the Strip to Place Pigalle and Montmartre in Paris where topless spectaculars premiered.
If all the jewelry worn by the gorgeous dancers was weighed, it would total 10,000 pounds. More than 1,000 dancers have worked in the show during its 34-year run. The showgirls in the stunning “Grand Jewel Box” show-stopping have to be able to wear the trademark feathered headdress, which weighs as much as 22 pounds.

A.  That's a lot of money for costumes and you haven't yet factored in paying the cast and crew.  B.  22 pounds on your head, blowing in the breeze, gives you one monster migraine ...

Yeah, excuse me Ice Charades, but what does this have to do with skating?

I'm so glad you asked.  What all the articles about Jubilee!'s closing hints at is this form of entertainment may be dead.  If not dead, surely on it's last, very long fishnetted legs.  AND the same may be said for Holiday On Ice.  Unlike Disney On Ice or the rivals to Disney, such as Ice Age on Ice, these shows are aimed at kids and will still have a paying audience (of the parents) willing to go to the shows because little Debby or Johnny want to see Anna and Olaf, the snowman.

But ice shows following the traditional path don't seem to have the same enthusiastic crowd.  HOI has further troubles with it's owner, Stage Entertainment.  Their main bread and butter is Broadway musicals, such as Der König der Löwen (The Lion King) and Starlight Express, are in deep financial trouble.  I also heard threw the grapevine in Hamburg that the dance school there, which trains and produces dancers for the shows, is closing.  Tough times indeed.

As I said in an earlier post, there are many reasons, the main one being are avenues of entertainment have never been more broad (I'm looking at you YouTube and I'm as guilty as anyone else) so these shows have to adapt or die.  Sorry Jubilee!.    But John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Sun has a different take.  He thinks Jubilee! closed because the showgirl's allure is dying.  That could be.  Certainly Cirque du Soleil is doing extremely well on The Strip.  They have adapted from straight out circus fare to fairy tale extravaganzas to pop/rock tributes with flashy acrobats in amazing sets.  So far they seem to know what will please the crowd. 

From the article by John Katsilometes:
Though the cast was not told of any plans for Jubilee Theater after Feb. 11, there is word out of Caesars Entertainment that a new show is already in development.

Let's hope that show will have a new kind of showgirl, back from the brink of extinction, and ready to live a long time!  As for Holiday On Ice?  I suggest they take a good look at the new show to replace Jubilee.

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