Performance review: Club Vegas: The Spectacle, Athenaeum

All the ritz and glitz of Vegas in this variety show.
‘Club Vegas: The Spectacle’. Photo: Supplied. A group of six performers on stage in extravagant purple body suit and feather on top of their heads on the stage with spotlights on them.

If you want introspective theatrical content that parses the meaning of life, go and see Club Vegas… nah just kidding. There’s nothing subtle or deep about this show that channels the decadent lusciousness of Sin City.

Watching this extravaganza, you’d feel as though the entire haberdashery section in multiple department stores had been raided and denuded of all glimmery fabrics and feathery accessories. The production is a modern homage to the ‘glamour and over-the-top glitz on the famous Las Vegas Glitter Strip’ and it indeed delivers on this premise.

With 22 performers and headliners that include musical darling Rachael Beck, news reporter-turned entertainer Allan Raskall, as well as singers Lissa Dawson and Jonathan Guthrie-Jones, Club Vegas: The Spectacle is an unashamedly nostalgic trip, showcasing easily recognisable tunes like ‘The Love Boat’, ‘Anything Goes’, ‘New York, New York’, ‘Mack the Knife’, ‘Singing in the Rain’ and ‘YMCA’, and paying tributes to a variety of popular artists including Ricky Martin, Dua Lipa, Frank Sinatra, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Barry Manilow, Tina Turner, Black Eyed Peas and Donna Summer.

Read: Exhibition review: Graeme Base – Animalia, Beinart Gallery

Master of ceremony is James Liotta, who plays Gino Starr, decked out in knock-off Versace with of course, a golden medallion hanging off his neck. His inclusion is intermittently funny, but he does successfully conjure up the cheap and trashy Vegas vibe. Club Vegas is programmed like a variety show – in between all the singing and dancing, a number of circus acts with their various displays of balance, strength and agility, are interspersed throughout.

The video displays are as you expect, blindingly bright and lurid and the lighting also succumbs to the theme of excess.

The real stars of the show though, are the costumes. There are multiple wardrobe changes, each one seemingly more extravagant than the last. The aesthetic here is pure rainbow-hued fantasia. These shimmery, gorgeously plumaged creatures bedecked in tinsel, glitter, sequins and feathers command the stage; it’s a wonder how they can even move with their enormous headdresses, let alone dance in them. The choreography hence, can feel a little basic due to having to work with and around such encumbrances.

This is a short-run gig so if you’re after some confectionary to sweeten Melbourne’s dreary, rain-specked winter and want to sing and wave your arms along to daggy hits like ‘Copacabana’ – here’s your chance.

Club Vegas: The Spectacle
Artistic Director: Adam Dion Bahoudian
Costume Designer: Nina Randall Bahoudian 

Choreographer: Alana Scanlan
Lighting Designer: Craig Boyes
Multimedia Designer: Daniel Bahouldian
Co-choreographer: Sue-Ellen Shook

Tickets: From $59

Club Vegas: The Spectacle will be performing in Melbourne until 2 June 2024 before touring to Queensland in November.

Thuy On is the Reviews and Literary Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her debut, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was released by University of Western Australia Publishing (UWAP). Her second collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Her third book, Essence, will be published in 2025. Twitter: @thuy_on Instagram: poemsbythuy