No cause for jubilation

The Flamingo Reno’s new show is retro—but not in a good way

Members of the <i>Jubilation</i> cast.

Members of the Jubilation cast.

Photo by David Robert

Rated 2.0

I’m not sure what demographic the folks at the Flamingo Reno are trying to appeal to with their new show, Jubilation. It certainly wasn’t mine, and from the reactions of many of the older people in the audience, it wasn’t theirs, either.

Jubilation is the mixed-up love child of producers Breck Wall and Patrick Maes. The duo previously raked in “Best Show of the Year” awards for Aireus at the Reno Hilton, which makes their current offering even more disappointing.

Let’s start with the music. It appears that musical director David Adams bought one of those “Sounds of the ‘80s” compilation CDs from an infomercial and just went buck-wild. When your star’s big solo is a rendition of Sheila E.'s “The Glamorous Life,” you’ve got some serious issues. This 1984 ditty was not one of Prince’s stellar songwriting efforts, and this statement is coming from a rabid fan.

Speaking of Prince, a particularly painful segment of the show consisted of a poorly mixed medley of The Purple One’s songs. To say that this did not go over well would be an understatement. It was less a dance number than an excuse for the showgirls to sashay across the stage wearing extremely weird-looking outfits. Again, I love Prince, but the man’s taste in fashion is a bit out there, and these costumes look like they came straight out of an erotic Mad Hatter’s tea party.

Things just got even weirder when a rousing swing number started, and the showgirls all took the stage in 1950s-style cheerleader outfits. One was attached to a couple of bungee cords, and a male dancer proceeded to throw her around the stage, simulating cheerleading stunts.

Have you ever seen beer shooting out of someone’s nose? You would have seen it had you been sitting at my table during this number, because I couldn’t stop laughing. This woman was flailing around at Mach 5 with this manic grin on her face. I kept waiting for the male dancer to miss a catch and send her straight into the house lights.

I know these dancers work their asses off, and I have no quarrel with their efforts. But they deserve better than Jubilation. This statement goes double for lead singer/dancer Alana Holland. Holland’s voice and moves were impressive, and she did a wonderful job of engaging the audience and making the whole thing look effortless.

The real highlight of the show was the comic relief of Pudgy! (The exclamation point is part of her name.) Pudgy! is an old-school performer; when you watch her work, you can almost see Dean and Frank getting sloshed at the El Cortez. Her ability to make a whole act out of the unpredictability of audience participation is truly amazing.

Unfortunately, the show’s other comic, impressionist Janice Hart, wrenched me right back into the ‘80s again. Her impression of Tina Turner was not bad, just outdated and corny. Turner’s 1984 hit “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” became “What’s Hair Got to Do With It?” in Hart’s act, as the comic strutted around on stage in a huge, spiky wig.

Noticing a trend here? Apparently, 1984 was a very good year for the people behind Jubilation. I guess we can be thankful they didn’t throw in Ray Parker Jr.'s theme from Ghostbusters.